• Daniel Bullock

11 Idioms For Surprise That Will Blow Your Mind

11 English idioms for surprise that will blow your mind, One can hardly believe one's eyes, To stop dead in one's tracks, Knocked for a loop, That's a surprise, Come as a surprise, Pull something out of the bag, Brimming with excitement,
I am surprised!

Idioms for surprise

Have you ever been lost for words when wanting to express excitement or disbelief in English? Just saying "I'm surprised" feels a little weak in some situations. When we are very surprised or shocked, we can say something like "It blew my mind" or, "I was knocked for a loop". These 11 idioms for surprise will help you sound more impactful in your speech.

Expressions of disbelief

Here are the first three of our 11 idioms for surprise. These idioms are used as expressions of disbelief. Disbelief means that we cannot believe something. We are so surprised or shocked that we have to express our shock or surprise, but sometimes we are unable to do so due to that shock. In these situations, the following sayings may well help you out!

  1. One can hardly believe one's eyes

  2. To stop dead in one's tracks

  3. Knocked for a loop

  4. That's a surprise

  5. Come as a surprise

  6. Pull something out of the bag

  7. Brimming with excitement

  8. It blew my mind

  9. I thought as much

  10. What can you expect?

  11. Wonders shall never cease

  12. In a dither

  13. Rather disconcerted

  14. I am shaken up

One can hardly believe one’s eyes

i can hardly believe my eyes, One can hardly believe one’s eyes, duck looking surprised, startled expression on face, cute animal clipart

This means that we can’t trust what we are seeing. Here is an example sentence.

I can hardly believe my eyes! Liam has done the housework!

To stop dead in one’s tracks

This saying means we are so surprised or put in such a state of disbelief, that we freeze. We stop what we are doing or stop moving. Here is an example sentence using this expression:

Seeing the injured animal on the road stopped me dead in my tracks. I was shocked.

Knocked for a loop

infographic for 5 Expressions of disbelief, that's a surprise, i am shaken up, knocked for a loop, it blew my mind

This expression is used when we have experienced an unpleasant surprise. We can also use the sentence with a pronoun. For example, knock me for a loop, knock her for a loop. More English grammar help is available here. Here’s a sample sentence using this expression.

When Janet failed her driving test, it really knocked her for a loop.

An idiom for unexpected

A student once asked me, “What is the idiom of unexpected?” I responded that they were in fact quite a few idioms for unexpected events. Here are 3 good phrases for a surprise.

That’s a surprise

You got a new car? That’s a surprise!

Come as a surprise

It came as a surprise to me that Emma was getting married!

Pull something out of the bag

James really pulled something out of the bag with my surprise party. I really wasn’t expecting it! Thanks, James!

RELATED ARTICLE: 25 Idioms About Summer: Beginner’s Guide to Vacation Phrases

Idioms to express excitement

Next, we have two idioms that are used to express excitement. They’re very close in meaning to the other idioms which are used here to show surprise.

Brimming with excitement

To understand the saying, picture a glass of water that is almost full to the top. The amount of water in the glass symbolizes our level of excitement. Because the water is almost at the top of the glass we are brimming, or full of, excitement. Here is an example sentence:

Charlotte and Amelia are brimming with excitement at the thought of having a holiday in Spain this year.

It blew my mind

idioms for surprise about cities and places, new york, skyscraper, mind-blowing view, i was knocked for a loop
The skyline of NYC blows my mind - it's so dramatic

This expression means our brain is overwhelmed with shock or surprise. We use this expression when we have seen or experienced something really unbelievable. Here is an example of this expression in a sentence.

Visiting New York City for the first time just blew my mind. I had never seen such a big city before.

Idioms for not surprised.

The next three idioms are used for exactly the opposite of what we’ve been talking about. When we have expected something, often in a cynical way, we can use these English expressions. Use them sparingly in the EFL classroom!

I thought as much

This saying means that we are not surprised. When something happens, usually negatively, and we expected it, then we can say this. Here is an example:

I thought as much. Amelia didn’t do her homework again.

What can you expect

This idiom is used to show we are disappointed but not surprised. Here is an example:

A: Noah lost his table tennis match on Sunday.

B: What can you expect? He never practices.

Wonders shall never cease

Wonders shall never cease, idioms for surprise, a boy brushing his teeth, blue toothbrush, brown hair, eyebrows, borwn eyes, white foam, holding
You brushed your teeth? Wonders shall never cease!

This phrase is normally used when we are happy or surprised. However, it can be used sarcastically. This means that we think something is not impressive or surprising. Here’s an example:

A: I brushed my teeth.

B: Wonders shall never cease. You do realize you should brush your teeth every day, twice a day?

A variation of this saying is: Wonders will never cease. Also, will wonders ever cease? They are very similar in meaning.

A fancy word for shocked

Fancy has quite a few meanings, as you can see here. In this case, our interpretation of fancy means sophisticated or a little bit more high-class. Also, we have two other words which are similar to shocked.

  1. In a dither

  2. Rather disconcerted

  3. I am shaken up

Now, here are some examples in sentences:

Mia is in a dither about what to cook for her dinner party this weekend.

After moving to South Korea, Lucas felt rather disconcerted for a while. The culture shock was huge.

After failing the English exam for the third time, I must say I am shaken up. I really expected to pass this time!

shaken up, milkshakes, idioms for surprise, berries

Have you ever been left shaken up by something?

Another word for shocked in a good way

Sometimes English vocabulary for shocking things can be quite hard or aggressive. In positive situations, we occasionally need to modify our language to sound softer, to put words in a good light instead of a bad one. This is a good alternative to saying shocked:

Be astounded

We use this expression when we are shocked or very surprised, but normally (not every time though - sometimes it is said in anger or disappointment) it is used for happy or good news. Here is an example sentence:

I was absolutely astounded by Barcelona’s victory against Manchester United. They did great!

Also, if you would like to see some more natural English idioms, why not have a look at Fast Expressions: Everything You Need To Know About Speed Idioms? It's a speedy read!

How to express surprise in writing?

How to express surprise in writing? lady noting something down with a pen on a memo pad, sitting outside in the summertime, bracelet, green lawn, grass, relaxed atmosphere
Express surprise in writing by using the phrase "I was surprised to learn".

When we are writing, sometimes we have to use words in a more formal or conservative style. This is especially true for academic or business English. A good expression we can use to express surprise when we are writing is:

I was surprised to learn

I was surprised to learn that our teacher was leaving the English department. How disappointing!

10 letter word for shocking

As a bonus for those crossword lovers out there, here is a 10-letter word that means shocking:


It is not only for crosswords, though! It is a super word for expressing shock, surprise, or disbelief in English. I hope you have enjoyed reading these 11 idioms for surprise.

I was appalled by his outrageous behavior.

Benjamin’s new hairstyle is just outrageous!

Evelyn’s comments about fashion are outrageous!