sud·​den | \ ˈsə-dᵊn How to pronounce sudden (audio) \

Definition of sudden

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : happening or coming unexpectedly a sudden shower
b : changing angle or character all at once a sudden drop in the ocean bottom
2 : marked by or manifesting abruptness or haste a sudden departure
3 : made or brought about in a short time : prompt



Definition of sudden (Entry 2 of 2)

: an unexpected occurrence : emergency
all of a sudden or less commonly on a sudden
: sooner than was expected : at once

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from sudden


suddenly adverb
suddenness \ ˈsə-​dᵊn-​(n)əs How to pronounce suddenness (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for sudden

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for sudden


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

Examples of sudden in a Sentence

Adjective a sudden change in temperature Sudden fame can be difficult to deal with. She had a sudden urge to be outside. His death was very sudden. a sudden turn in the road I was surprised by her sudden decision to quit. The director's sudden departure leaves the organization's future uncertain.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The sudden, jarring success granted to Duran Duran was hard on the five young men. Heather Finn, Good Housekeeping, "The Real Reason Why Duran Duran Split up After the Live Aid Concert in 1985," 28 Dec. 2019 But all of a sudden, this older lady is sitting there (by the pool) with her husband, staring at us the whole time. Hemal Jhaveri, For The Win, "There's no defending Jeremy Roenick's inappropriate and demeaning comments," 24 Dec. 2019 The nurse had been a godsend, able to effortlessly steer her mother to a place that somehow felt stable and secure, even amid her sudden spiral. Greg Borowski,, "The Christmas Boxes: A story about love and loss, mothers and daughters," 20 Dec. 2019 And the sudden virality of the videos signalled a much larger hunger for dadis on TikTok in India. Sanaya Chandar, Quartz India, "Can’t make your video go viral on TikTok? Maybe your grandma can help," 19 Dec. 2019 Around half of these are wild; the other 400 or so are captive, and the nation’s conservation plan hinges on releasing them into the wild—a strategy imperiled by sudden demand from wealthier countries. Paul Kvinta, Outside Online, "I Bought an Elephant to Find Out How to Save Them," 12 Nov. 2019 Some of the 2018 Annual Report’s findings included: The three leading causes of accidental and sudden, unexpected deaths —accounting for 88% of all accidental deaths — were drugs, falls and being killed in or by vehicles. Ramona Sentinel, "Medical Examiner: Drugs, falls, cars, suicides lead death investigations," 30 Sep. 2019 To customers who trusted the company to hold on to their music, the closure felt sudden. Sarah Hauer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Music storage startup Murfie shut down and customers have to pay to get their CDs back," 19 Dec. 2019 The big picture is that there is a common culprit behind the sudden dysfunction in September and the prospect of further turmoil at the end of the year. The Economist, "Free exchange Despite the Fed’s efforts, the repo market risks more turbulence," 18 Dec. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of sudden


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1558, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sudden


Middle English sodain, from Anglo-French sudain, from Latin subitaneus, from subitus sudden, from past participle of subire to come up, from sub- up + ire to go — more at sub-, issue entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sudden

Time Traveler for sudden

Time Traveler

The first known use of sudden was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for sudden

Last Updated

7 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sudden.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sudden


How to pronounce sudden (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sudden

: happening, coming, or done very quickly in a way that is usually not expected


sud·​den | \ ˈsə-dᵊn How to pronounce sudden (audio) \

Kids Definition of sudden

1 : happening or coming quickly and unexpectedly … she was startled by a sudden outburst of noise.— Robert C. O'Brien, Rats of NIMH
2 : met with unexpectedly We came to a sudden turn in the road.
3 : hasty sense 2 He made a sudden decision.
all of a sudden
: sooner than was expected : suddenly All of a sudden I saw him.

Other Words from sudden

suddenly adverb
suddenness noun

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on sudden

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sudden

Spanish Central: Translation of sudden

Nglish: Translation of sudden for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sudden for Arabic Speakers

Comments on sudden

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


to insert between existing elements

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!