\ə-ˈbrəpt \

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

abruptly \ ə-​ˈbrəp(t)-​lē \ adverb
ended the meeting abruptly
abruptness \ ə-​ˈbrəp(t)-​nəs \ 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

Some have raised concerns about his past work for Ken Starr on the Clinton investigation and his abrupt change of heart about presidential investigations. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Report: Brett Kavanaugh racked up thousands in debt buying baseball tickets," 12 July 2018 But there’s about to be abrupt change in a county that’s quickly falling into drought. Gary Robbins, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Temperature could hit 117 degrees in San Diego County during weekend heat wave," 4 July 2018 Trump’s willingness to upset traditional U.S. alliances and his abrupt changes of mind on key issues is creating an undercurrent of anxiety at the gathering, which would otherwise be focused on security challenges from North Korea to a rising China. Jason Koutsoukis, Bloomberg.com, "Canada Defense Minister Calls Trump Tariff Action ‘Insulting’," 1 June 2018 Life for Michael and his family made an abrupt change in November 2016, during a playoff football game in Covington. Bob Warren, NOLA.com, "Will to Walk: LSU is 'Mighty Michael' Doherty's next stop," 30 May 2018 In an abrupt change from April’s unseasonably cold temperatures — and the day after snow fell in the state — May is starting out warm. Christine Dempsey, courant.com, "Temperatures to Reach Into 80s Wednesday," 1 May 2018 The Yerington Paiute Tribe alleges the abrupt change was retaliation for its fight against a recent move that puts the state and the company in charge of cleaning up the mine site instead of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Washington Post, "AP Exclusive: Water delivery suspended in Nevada mine battle," 28 Apr. 2018 Trump’s abrupt change of tone is indicative not of a shift in his administration’s Syria strategy, but rather of the absence of any such strategy in the first place. Jonah Shepp, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump’s Syria Reversal Shows He Never Had a Coherent Plan," 9 Apr. 2018 The abrupt change in the president's thinking has drawn concern both inside and outside the United States. CBS News, "Trump has floated over pulling out of Syria for weeks: Report," 30 Mar. 2018

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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Statistics for abrupt

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for abrupt

The first known use of abrupt was in 1565

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More Definitions for abrupt


\ə-ˈbrəpt \

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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Comments on abrupt

What made you want to look up abrupt? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

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