1 a : characterized by or involving action or change without preparation or warning : sudden and unexpected
b : rudely or unceremoniously curt
c : lacking smoothness or continuity
2 : giving the impression of being cut or broken off; especially : involving a sudden steep rise or drop
Did You Know?
We'll break it to you gently: abrupt derives from abruptus, the past participle of the Latin verb abrumpere, meaning "to break off." Abrumpere combines the prefix ab- with rumpere, which means "to break" and which forms the basis for several other words in English that suggest a kind of breaking, such as interrupt, rupture, and bankrupt. Whether being used to describe a style of speaking that seems rudely short (as in "gave an abrupt answer"), something with a severe rise or drop ("abrupt temperature change"), or something that seems rash and unprecipitated ("made the abrupt decision to quit college"), abrupt, which first appeared in English in the 16th century, implies a kind of jarring unexpectedness that catches people off guard.
We were all stunned when Dennis made the abrupt decision to quit his job and move to Italy.
"Federally subsidized visual art (along with plays, art centers, and concerts) flourished until 1941 when the U.S. entered World War II. The ending was abrupt, with projects shut down overnight." — David Bates, Oregon ArtsWatch, 11 Mar. 2021
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
Besides being a synonym of erupt, what other meanings does the verb irrupt (a derivative of Latin rumpere) have?VIEW THE ANSWER
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP