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 All of a sudden, Jim Farley is talking about his grandfather — a man who began at Ford Motor Company carrying a metal lunch bucket into the factory at the turn of the 20th Century. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "At Ford, COO Jim Farley looks to speed as he plans to move company into the future," 8 Feb. 2020 But a sudden shift from cold weather to warm weather can cause plants with low chilling requirements to bloom early, Cappiello said. Ben Tobin, The Courier-Journal, "Hey bud! Those blooms you're seeing during winter may not be bad for your plants," 10 Jan. 2020 And all of the sudden they were all gone and I was left with now what? Laraib Hashmi, Houston Chronicle, "Sunday Conversation: Gypsie Hufnagle, volunteer at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands, says volunteering is her passion," 7 Jan. 2020 China is slowing, and Europe, compounded by a sudden shift from diesel cars, is a thorn. Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, "Here's What U.S. Auto Sales Looked Like in 2019," 6 Jan. 2020 The sudden seasonal shift has left Muskego's fall routines a little out of whack, though the city isn't unprepared for early snows. Jim Riccioli, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Early snowfall might strain some Waukesha County cities' plowing and salt budgets," 19 Nov. 2019 In Parkville, the traffic is further complicated by two overpasses, I-84 and the Amtrak trestle, that inject sudden shifts in natural lighting with which drivers must deal. Kenneth R. Gosselin,, "Reviving Parkville: to transform a Hartford neighborhood into a modern, walkable urban center you’ve got to deal with all the cars," 14 Nov. 2019 Their sudden shifts come as former Vice President Joe Biden has failed to seize control of the race and has seen his poll numbers decrease. Joey Garrison, USA TODAY, "A 'Hail Mary': Why Deval Patrick thinks he has a shot in the 2020 Democratic primary," 14 Nov. 2019 Pentagon officials were alarmed by the sudden shift in Syria policy, but top officials never made their views public., "WASHINGTON — The top American diplomat on the ground in northern Syria has criticized the Trump administration for not trying harder to prevent Turkey’s military offensive there last month — and said Turkish-backed militia fighters committed “war crimes and ethnic cleansing.”," 8 Nov. 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

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sudden.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!