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 suddenness (audio) \ 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

This dour assessment in The Diplomat offers a few candidates: widespread layoffs and hiring freezes; faltering sales at Alibaba; net income declines at Tencent and; a sudden dearth of venture and private equity capital. Fortune, "China’s Unicorns: Galloping Into the Sunset?—Data Sheet," 19 July 2019 All of a sudden everyone’s on the edge of their seat. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, "The rivalry between the Galaxy and LAFC— known as El Trafico— got off to an auspicious start," 18 July 2019 That video was one of the two that YouTube eventually promoted, resulting in Joana's sudden surge in viewers., "Joana Ceddia got famous on YouTube for being a normal teen, and she’s trying to stay that way," 18 July 2019 Violent hands, a sudden first step and flexible hips translate to big statistical production now that the third-year pro is surrounded by stellar veteran defensive linemen such as Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson. Andy Benoit,, "Two Years Removed From 0-16, These Browns Have No Major Weaknesses," 17 July 2019 To the contrary, the sudden earth-shifting of quakes is essential to California’s appeal—the sense that here, everything can change in seconds. Joe Mathews, The Mercury News, "Mathews: Earthquakes are essential to Californians’ self-esteem," 17 July 2019 The Breakers went on to win the CIF Southern Section Division 1 title, defeating the Sea Kings 9-8 in sudden-death overtime on Feb. 16. Daily Pilot, "Laguna Beach’s Nicole Struss is Surf League Player of the Year in girls’ water polo," 16 July 2019 The New York City couple was getting married in the Plaza Hotel when all of a sudden the power went out for a wide stretch of the city's west side. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "New York City couple continues wedding during blackout – disappointed, but still dancing," 16 July 2019 New York officials offered free legal help and a telephone hotline as paranoia seized longtime city residents fearing sudden deportation. Anchorage Daily News, "Early Brooklyn ICE raid precedes promised White House crackdown on NYC’s undocumented, prompting outpouring of support," 14 July 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.

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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

22 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 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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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).


something desired as essential

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