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There are times when someone's actions are both surprising, but not surprising at the same time. Almost expected, yet still surprising.

Example: The Scorpion and the Frog

When the Scorpion strings the Frog in the parable, it is both surprising and not surprising at the same time. We're surprised because the scorpion just doomed himself; but not surprised because it is in the scorpion's nature to kill his prey.

Example: An Addict

When an addict has been clean for several years and then falls down the rabbit hole again, it is both surprising and not surprising at the same time. We're surprised because the addict has been clean for several years, but not surprised because the addict is an addict.

Question

What is a word describing when someone is both surprised, but not surprised at the same time? Almost expected, yet still surprising.

Phrases such as "in one's nature" doesn't express the surprised part. Ideally, this is a word that could be used in everyday conversations:

Joe: "Did you hear the Scorpion stung the Frog while they were swimming across the river and they both died?"

Jane: "Really? Wow, that's surprising. I guess that's kind of expected, though."

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    I don't know about a single word to encapsulate this, but a a common saying is "shocking but not surprising," which I've heard many times. It was also discussed on this stack exchange thread: english.stackexchange.com/questions/328766/… --- If I think of anything better, I'll let you know. Thanks.
    – user191160
    Aug 12, 2017 at 0:32
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    You could use the phrase in retrospect, since the realization of not being surprised usually comes after a moment of thinking back on the evidence.
    – vpn
    Aug 12, 2017 at 0:37
  • I don't have a single word but some other ways of putting it in a phrase are: "I suppose it was bound to happen", or "always out there" ('the possibility was always out there'). "hanging over ones head" .. or "we always had it hanging over our head" are others. You're looking for more of single word though.
    – Tom22
    Aug 12, 2017 at 2:11
  • 'apprised of' is frequently used when being notified of predictable yet still note-worthy events. I'm not sure the dictionary definitions support my take on the word though. "Wow, thanks for apprising me of that." It probably doesn't go far enough.
    – Tom22
    Aug 12, 2017 at 2:18
  • You are dismayed even though you have resigned yourself to the inevitability of it.
    – Jim
    Aug 12, 2017 at 7:11

4 Answers 4

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I would suggest that these situations are tragic or ironic but not surprising.

Irony and surprise are both characterized by something unexpected happening. Likewise, tragedy is about things that were good turning bad, usually due to some fatal character flaw (as in the scorpion or addict).

People disagree about what is or isn't ironic a lot, but to me the key thing about irony is that sense of something unexpected that actually makes a lot of sense. Whereas something surprising feels like it is coming out of nowhere.

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In your examples, the "surprise" is not necessarily the event itself. You are actually surprised that the actor made the choice that led to the event. This makes you feel kinda stupid, because you know you should have seen it coming.

I submit "stupefied."

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/stupefied

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For situations where something surprising happened, but the actual outcome could have been seen clearly in hindsight, my family uses the phrase "oddly predictable".

Joe: "Did you hear the Scorpion stung the Frog while they were swimming across the river and they both died?"

Jane: "Really? That was oddly predictable."

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Personally I would say it as

Joe: "Did you hear the Scorpion stung the Frog while they were swimming across the river? they both died!"

Jane: "Really? Wow, that's surprising. I guess that's kind of expected though, I mean, it is in their nature"

or in the first paragraph you gave I would write it as:

When the Scorpion stings the Frog in the parable, it is surprising but expected. We were shocked because the scorpion just doomed himself, but not surprised because it is in the scorpion's nature to kill their prey.

Being surprised but expecting the end result is something I personally don't use as a way for how a character should act. But

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