\ ə-ˈbrəpt How to pronounce abrupt (audio) \

Definition of abrupt

1a : characterized by or involving action or change without preparation or warning : sudden and unexpected came to an abrupt stop an abrupt turn an abrupt decision to retire
b : rudely or unceremoniously curt She has an abrupt manner. an abrupt reply
c : lacking smoothness or continuity an abrupt transition
2 : giving the impression of being cut or broken off especially : involving a sudden steep rise or drop abrupt hills a high abrupt bank bounded the stream

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Other Words from abrupt

abruptness \ ə-​ˈbrəp(t)-​nəs How to pronounce abrupt (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for abrupt

precipitate, headlong, abrupt, impetuous, sudden mean showing undue haste or unexpectedness. precipitate stresses lack of due deliberation and implies prematureness of action. the army's precipitate withdrawal headlong stresses rashness and lack of forethought. a headlong flight from arrest abrupt stresses curtness and a lack of warning or ceremony. an abrupt refusal impetuous stresses extreme impatience or impulsiveness. an impetuous lover proposing marriage sudden stresses unexpectedness and sharpness or violence of action. flew into a sudden rage

steep, abrupt, precipitous, sheer mean having an incline approaching the perpendicular. steep implies such sharpness of pitch that ascent or descent is very difficult. a steep hill a steep dive abrupt implies a sharper pitch and a sudden break in the level. a beach with an abrupt drop-off precipitous applies to an incline approaching the vertical. the river winds through a precipitous gorge sheer suggests an unbroken perpendicular expanse. sheer cliffs that daunted the climbers

Did You Know?

We’ll break it to you gently: abrupt derives from abruptus, the past participle of the Latin verb abrumpere, meaning "to break off." Abrumpere combines the prefix ab- with rumpere, which means "break" and which forms the basis for several other words in English that suggest a kind of breaking, such as interrupt, rupture, and bankrupt. Whether being used to describe a style of speaking that seems rudely short (as in "gave an abrupt answer"), something with a severe rise or drop ("abrupt climate change"), or something that seems rash and unprecipitated ("made the abrupt decision to quit college"), abrupt, which first appeared in English in the 16th century, implies a kind of jarring unexpectedness that catches people off guard.

Examples of abrupt in a Sentence

There was an abrupt change in the weather. The road came to an abrupt end. The storm caused an abrupt power failure. She has an abrupt manner.
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Recent Examples on the Web Meanwhile, hometown supporters have distanced themselves, putting an abrupt end to the buzz around his new album. Star Tribune, "Sean Tillmann, aka Har Mar Superstar, faces more sex accusations, fallout," 2 Apr. 2021 The announcement would have seemed improbable in July 2018, when Greitens was largely abandoned by the state GOP and resigned as governor, marking an abrupt end to an unlikely political ascent. Washington Post, "Eric Greitens resigned as Missouri governor over an affair and blackmail claims. Now he’s running for Senate.," 23 Mar. 2021 Newsom could see an abrupt end to his political ambitions due to a number of factors, including the peculiar rules in a recall race. Winston Gieseke, USA TODAY, "In CA: Disneyland reopening to California residents, Newsom readies for recall election," 18 Mar. 2021 Intel’s 15-year partnership with Apple came to an abrupt end towards the end of last year, when Apple announced that future Macs would largely be based on its own silicon. Barry Collins, Forbes, "Like A Spurned Lover, Intel’s Attacks On Apple Are Desperate Stuff," 18 Mar. 2021 Then came his abrupt turn, and a headlong descent into some of the darkest places in Georgia history. New York Times, "How a Hard-Core Liberal Lawyer Joined the Pro-Trump Mob," 18 Feb. 2021 These changes represent an abrupt U-turn for SANDAG, which built out the trolley system but had in recent years focused on expanding freeways with carpool and bus lanes. Joshua Emerson Smith, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Election shake-up in San Diego bodes well for envisioned $177 billion rail expansion," 12 Dec. 2020 Whatever the case, a fairly abrupt plot turn sends Roderick off on his tour while Charlotte remains behind to convalesce in Mary’s care. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Ammonite’ Review: Opening Up a Closed Heart," 3 Dec. 2020 Journalist after journalist voyaged into white working-class quarters like Macomb County to explain Michigan’s abrupt turn away from the Democrats. Eli Day, The New Republic, "How a Radical Black Tradition Could Buoy Biden in Michigan," 5 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abrupt.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of abrupt

1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for abrupt

borrowed from Latin abruptus "steep, sheer, broken or cut off too short," from past participle of abrumpere "to break, rupture, break off short," from ab- ab- + rumpere "to cause to break or burst," going back to Indo-European *ru-n-p-, nasal present formation from the base *reu̯p- "break, tear" — more at reave

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Last Updated

8 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Abrupt.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abrupt. Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for abrupt


\ ə-ˈbrəpt How to pronounce abrupt (audio) \

Kids Definition of abrupt

1 : happening without warning : sudden The meeting came to an abrupt end.
2 : steep entry 1 sense 1 an abrupt drop
3 : rudely brief an abrupt reply

Other Words from abrupt

abruptly adverb
abruptness noun

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