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A word for something you didn’t know you’d like

I thought delight might be it, but the various dictionaries I checked make no mention of the sense of surprise or unexpectedness, defining delight as simply heightened or extreme pleasure.

To clarify, I'm referring to the pleasure arising from some unexpected thing, not encountering pleasure contrary to expectations.

For example: you book into a cheap hotel and have low expectations for a good experience (dirty linen, no room service, noise, etc) ... but then you discover that your favorite band is doing a gig there.

Or: you book into an expensive hotel, and figure there will be the usual roll call of luxuries perfectly executed to make your stay a pleasure ... but then you discover that your favorite band is doing a gig there.

So, a different sense from: "Here, have a bite of this foul smelling fruit", or the unexpected outcome of combining strawberries and balsamic vinegar, or strawberries combined with peas.

  • I don't know of any. The best I can come up with is a two word answer: pleasantly surprised but that emphasizes the surprise whereas your two words emphasize the pleasure.
    – Jim
    Dec 30, 2012 at 5:16
  • 4
    Serendipleasure? Dec 30, 2012 at 5:27
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    Wet dream? I had one once. After reading a Wordsworth poem in high school. Totally unexpected. Total pleasure.
    – user21497
    Dec 30, 2012 at 7:58
  • @coleopterist serendipity includes the sense of 'happy or beneficial'
    – Kris
    Dec 30, 2012 at 8:32
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    Erics, I really think some elaboration is in order here. I can be unexpectedly pleased at the taste of my sandwich, or at a birthday party I didn't expect, or upon being notified that I've won a raffle for an automobile, or going to a play that is far better than I had hoped, or by watching my child give a speech that held 4000 people rapt until their rousing ovation. I'm not sure I'd use a single word to describe all of those. Exuberance might fit, but that hardly means "unexpected pleasure" (that's more a description of the resulting feeling than of the unexpected pleasure itself).
    – J.R.
    Dec 30, 2012 at 11:11

5 Answers 5


To some extent, breathtaking may serve. This adjective has senses “stunningly beautiful; amazing” and “Very surprising or shocking; to such a degree as to cause astonishment”, which taken together might mean surprising and pleasing.

Also consider the noun felicity, with senses “Happiness” and “Something that is either a source of happiness or particularly apt” while the adjectival form felicitous has senses “happening at the right time; appropriate, opportune, apt” and “working out well; fortunate, opportune”, which taken all together similarly suggests surprising and pleasing.


Here are some single word synonyms for an unexpected pleasure. To help with choosing the best word for a particular use, I have also given the relevant definition. For definitions from various dictionaries of these and other senses of these words, see OneLook.com.

bonanza, a situation leading to sudden luck, gain, or success
bonus, a gain over and above what is customary or expected
fortuity, a chance occurrence, especially a lucky one
godsend, something very helpful, especially one unearned or not to your credit
windfall, an unexpected financial gain

  • As the definition shows, bonanza implies some sort of tangible gain, other than mere pleasure. Still, I think it's one of the best candidates put forth so far.
    – J.R.
    Dec 30, 2012 at 11:14

I know this doesn't sound exactly like unexpected pleasure, but I thought thrill could be a close contender.


Like some of the other suggestions, these may not be concisely equal to "unexpected pleasure", but can be used, depending on context:




The only word I can think of that comes close to what you’re looking for is astonishment but even then it’s not a perfect fit for your question.

From Oxford English Dictionary (OED) –


4 Mental disturbance or excitement due to the sudden presentation of anything unlooked for or unaccountable; wonder temporarily overpowering the mind; amazement.

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