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 As with so many other families, the concern has been both sudden and not. Mike Finger,, "Mike Finger: As Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan asks for space, a world can relate," 19 Jan. 2021 The latter belongs to Tony Duenas, a 53-year-old Angeleno with a stout, muscular build, thick runner’s calves and soft hazel eyes that no longer give him sight — the result of a sudden retinal detachment in 2009 that left him permanently blind. Los Angeles Times, "Losing his eyesight unexpectedly triggered a life of fitness, marathons and triathlons," 18 Jan. 2021 The Trump administration agrees, and all of the sudden, there is no stockpile. NBC News, "Meet the Press - January 17, 2021," 17 Jan. 2021 Pitino is not going to steal many recruits away from the league's traditional powers, and the sudden rise of Michigan under first-year coach Juwan Howard is another indication that the league will be strong for the foreseeable future. Star Tribune, "Gophers, .500 over rugged stretch of schedule, have reason to be optimistic," 16 Jan. 2021 Without giving anything away, the premiere must account for the sudden absence of Rose's Kate Kane. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Batwoman' gets a new lead, but Season 2 looks like the same flawed show," 16 Jan. 2021 Legacy’s sudden insolvency left more than 400 people jobless, more than 130 in Massachusetts alone. Globe Staff,, "Boston-based youth sports business Legacy Global Sports fails amid criminal inquiry," 16 Jan. 2021 The sudden absence of three key players caused Smart to mix and match an eight-man roster for the first time this season. Stephen Wagner, Dallas News, "No. 4 Texas bounces back with 82–67 blowout of Kansas State," 16 Jan. 2021 Experts attribute the result less to a sudden demand for European vehicles than to the fact that several large European managers closed funds last year, skewing the numbers. Chris Cumming, WSJ, "European Managers Came Out on Top as Fundraising Slowed Last Year," 15 Jan. 2021

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

23 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sudden.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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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

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Comments on sudden

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