from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To overcome (an obstacle, for example); conquer.
  • transitive v. To ascend to the top of; climb.
  • transitive v. To place something above; top.
  • transitive v. To be above or on top of: The church steeple surmounts the square.
  • transitive v. Obsolete To surpass or exceed in amount.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to get over; to overcome

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To rise above; to be higher than; to overtop.
  • transitive v. To conquer; to overcome.
  • transitive v. To surpass; to exceed.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To mount or rise above; overtop; excel; surpass.
  • To mount up on; pass over by mounting.
  • To place something over or upon.
  • To overcome; pass over, as difficulties or obstacles; get the better of.
  • To rise up; hence, to surpass; exceed.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. be on top of
  • v. get on top of; deal with successfully
  • v. reach the highest point of
  • v. be or do something to a greater degree


Middle English surmonten, from Old French surmonter : sur-, sur- + monter, to mount; see mount1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old French surmonter ("to rise above, surmount"), from sur- ("above") + monter ("to mount"). (Wiktionary)


  • The key difficulty Mr Brown needs to surmount is that Labour looks so dreadfully tired (as well as appallingly incompetent, but let’s leave that to one side).

    Archive 2007-05-01

  • The barrier OneNote aims to surmount is one created by Microsoft’s own success in establishing Word and Outlook, plus the overall Windows file system, as the dominant standards for writing, calendar keeping, and workplace communication.

    The Electric Mind Meld

  • Of course we have "deep political and ideological divisions," but the failure of a committed left-wing ideologue to "surmount" them does not mean they are insurmountable, does not demonstrate that those divisions could not be surmounted by someone from either party truly determined to govern from closer to the center.


  • How will a growing common language allow humans to partake of life in a wider world, to surmount obstacles of global scope, and to find solace in continuities with the past?

    The English Is Coming!

  • WASHINGTON—When President Barack Obama addresses the nation Tuesday, Americans won't see a lot of the candidate who promised to surmount the nation's political divisions.

    State of the Union Speech To Feature Sharper Tone

  • In a nutshell, Britain's experience suggests however loose the monetary policy, fiscal tightening is a hard headwind for an economy to surmount, especially when it's struggling out of a balance-sheet recession.

    U.S. Debt Negotiators Should Look to Britain

  • The ascent is precipitous, but the path is cut into continual and short windings, which enable you to surmount the perpendicularity of the mountain.

    Chapter 10

  • Before, dark and opaque bodies had surrounded me, impervious to my touch or sight; but I now found that I could wander on at liberty, with no obstacles which I could not either surmount or avoid.

    Chapter 11

  • The lowdown: As tough as it has been for the Red Wings to get out of the first round against upstart opponents who seemingly have a lot of things going for them, the overall talent level gap between these two teams should be too much for Columbus to surmount in a seven game series.

    Ted Mouths Off: First-round playoff picks

  • As a voice for listeners hoping to surmount struggles of their own, the singer emerged as a symbol of self help, music's equivalent of Oprah Winfrey.

    Music's Diva of Self-Help


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.