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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The sudden spread of monkeypox among gay and bisexual men echoes the emergence of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. Denise Roland And Jon Kamp, WSJ, 26 June 2022 The police try to find out what is behind the trio of sudden disappearances, but are unable to find any clues. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 25 June 2022 His entire team was gone, and this three-year ride, which included headlining tours and performances with the likes of Nickelodeon star Miranda Cosgrove, came to a sudden halt. ELLE, 24 June 2022 Clark’s ideas alarmed his colleagues, as did his sudden rise into Trump’s orbit as a potential new acting attorney general. Lisa Mascaro And Mary Clare Jalonick, Anchorage Daily News, 24 June 2022 When sudden rain storms flooded the park shortly after noon, rangers tried to get to Capitol Gorge. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 24 June 2022 Pandemics, global conflicts, societal unrest, sudden asset crashes and other unforeseen events can throw real challenges at your business, and your old roadmaps and strategies might have to be thrown out the window. Ariel Katz, Forbes, 24 June 2022 These sudden movements radiate outward from the fault as seismic waves, which cause the ground to shake. Sasha Warren, Scientific American, 24 June 2022 A year and change later, McConnell seized a sudden opportunity: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, less than two months before the 2020 presidential election, gave his party the chance to confirm a third Trump nominee to the Supreme Court. Morgan Watkins, The Courier-Journal, 24 June 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near sudden



sudden death

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Last Updated

28 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sudden.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for sudden


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 O'Brien, Mrs. Frisby and the 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

More from Merriam-Webster on sudden

Nglish: Translation of sudden for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sudden for Arabic Speakers


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