\ 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

Synonyms & Antonyms for abrupt


bluff, blunt, brusque (also brusk), crusty, curt, downright, short, snippy, unceremonious


circuitous, mealymouthed

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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

The abrupt cancellation — and the possibility of reducing or removing U.S. troops from Korea altogether — could have deeper consequences. Washington Post, "The Pentagon has now officially canceled military exercises with South Korea. Here’s what comes next.," 21 June 2018 Reaction to the abrupt cancellation of the team visit at the White House was fierce, especially among Eagles fans. Michael D. Shear, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump calls off Philadelphia Eagles’ White House visit over anthem dispute," 5 June 2018 Reaction to the abrupt cancellation of the team visit at the White House was fierce, especially among Eagles fans. Michael D. Shear, New York Times, "Trump Abruptly Calls Off Philadelphia Eagles’ Visit to White House," 4 June 2018 South Korea, which brokered talks between Washington and Pyongyang, was caught off guard by Trump's abrupt cancellation of the summit. Kathleen Joyce, Fox News, "North and South Korean leaders meet for second time in a month," 26 May 2018 South Korea was caught off guard by the abrupt cancellation of the summit by Trump, who cited hostility in recent North Korean comments. Time, "Leaders of North and South Korea Hold Surprise Second Summit," 26 May 2018 Nvidia and its partners never responded publicly to the allegations before the abrupt cancellation of the GeForce Partner Program today. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "Nvidia kills controversial GeForce Partner Program due to 'conjecture and mistruths'," 4 May 2018 So as a result of this abrupt cancellation, our relationships with key sponsors and brands has been jeopardized. Clarkisha Kent, The Root, "It Be Your Own People: On Universal FanCon and the Perversion of Community," 24 Apr. 2018 After canceling his Purpose Tour two weeks ago, Justin Bieber released a letter explaining his reasons for the abrupt concert cancellations and expressing his overall appreciation for his fans. Cara Zimmerman, Harper's BAZAAR, "Justin Bieber Releases a Heartfelt Letter On Why He Cancelled His 'Purpose' Tour," 3 Aug. 2017

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

13 Sep 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

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