sud·​den | \ˈsə-dᵊn \

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

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Other Words from sudden


suddenly adverb
suddenness \ˈsə-​dᵊn-​(n)əs \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for sudden

Synonyms: Adjective

abrupt, unanticipated, unexpected, unforeseen, unlooked-for

Antonyms: Adjective

anticipated, expected, foreseen

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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


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

But Leake, who all of sudden found himself even again, gave up three more runs in the second, including a two-run triple to Nick Martini, and Servais relieved him with one out in the second inning. Scott Hanson, The Seattle Times, "Mariners rally in 11th, end A’s chances at AL West title," 25 Sep. 2018 DeChambeau took the championship on the second sudden-death playoff hole. Patrick Brennan,, "Bryson DeChambeau prevails in Memorial Tournament playoff as Tiger Woods fades early Sunday," 3 June 2018 The tournament came down to a few sudden-death rounds for the junior golf title. Aaron Nicholson, azcentral, "Coody wins boys division junior golf title at Thunderbird International," 28 May 2018 Herewith a few suggestions: Bad news is more sudden than good news, which is usually gradual. Matt Ridley, WSJ, "Why Is It So Cool to Be Gloomy?," 15 Nov. 2018 No, there's a bunch of investigators who are on the political team, so that's Fahrenthold and Carol Leonnig, Roz Helderman, and Tom— Mara: Fahrenthold has to find out how [Trump] got the $400 million in cash all of a sudden. Olivia Fleming, Harper's BAZAAR, "Mara Liasson and Emma Brown Know the Advantages of Being a Female Journalist," 29 Oct. 2018 Considering none of us have heard this song in maybe ten years, this is a lot of references to Burnin’ Up all of a sudden. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Priyanka Chopra's Instagram Was Serenaded By Nick Jonas With His Old Jonas Brothers Lyrics," 24 Oct. 2018 Then all of a sudden this insane thing happens and her family returns. Ilana Kaplan, Teen Vogue, "Luna Blaise Debuts "Secrets" Music Video and Talks Her New Show "Manifest"," 11 Oct. 2018 According to Adam Annen, public relations manager for HomeAway, the shift has been sudden. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "How vacation homes went from private escape to investment opportunities," 2 Oct. 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for sudden

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for sudden

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

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More Definitions for sudden



English Language Learners Definition of sudden

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


sud·​den | \ˈsə-dᵊn \

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

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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).


living or existing for a long time

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