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

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Other Words from sudden


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

Synonyms & Antonyms for sudden

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective After years of causing fans to pull their hair out by passing up open looks to try and set up a teammate, Ingles all of a sudden has had three games of 20-plus points during this starting stretch. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, "‘More aggressive’ Joe Ingles has helped the Utah Jazz overcome Mike Conley’s recent absence," 18 Feb. 2021 Their hysterical laughter takes a turn because Em is crying all of a sudden. Jessica Goldstein, Vulture, "Dickinson Recap: All Too Well," 10 Feb. 2021 Then all of a sudden there's a reference to the 2003 George Clooney and Catherine Zeta Jones movie Intolerable Cruelty or someone makes a call on a Blackberry, and we're forced to reckon with the fact that 2003 wasn't five or even 10 years ago. Martha Sorren,, "Why Are Razr Flip Phones The Height Of Sophistication In Firefly Lane?," 5 Feb. 2021 In recent weeks, South Korea has been grappling with a sudden spike in infections tied to hospitals, nursing homes, churches, a prison, family gatherings and various other sites. Fox News, "South Korea confirms first COVID-19 variant cases," 29 Dec. 2020 More than a dozen teachers paint a picture of the difficult reality that is pandemic teaching and the challenges teachers face, from becoming front-line essential workers all of a sudden to facing retaliation for speaking up about their concerns. Andres Picon,, "‘Uncharted territory’ — San Antonio teachers overwhelmed with pandemic challenges," 27 Dec. 2020 The sudden spike of online shopping earlier this year strained shipping networks’ capacity. Washington Post, "This year’s online shopping rush is great for e-commerce and bad for last-minute shoppers," 21 Dec. 2020 And that usually means reducing labor costs to the point where a sudden spike in customer traffic effects stress-inducing chaos, at least temporarily. Chris Jones,, "Review: Steppenwolf Theatre’s ‘Wally World’ takes on life on a retail treadmill," 18 Dec. 2020 These issues are only getting worse with the sudden spike in cases and the holidays creating more demand for tests. NBC News, "Covid testing is only getting harder to come by. That's a serious problem.," 4 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for sudden

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for sudden

Last Updated

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sudden.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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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 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

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Comments on sudden

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