sudden

1 of 2

adjective

sud·​den ˈsə-dᵊn How to pronounce sudden (audio)
1
a
: 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
suddenly adverb
suddenness noun

sudden

2 of 2

noun

obsolete
: an unexpected occurrence : emergency
Phrases
all of a sudden or less commonly on a sudden
: sooner than was expected : at once
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

Example Sentences

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
For a species that can potentially live up to 80 years, the population collapse has been sudden. Los Angeles Times, 17 Nov. 2022 The money under discussion at the Egypt summit would be earmarked for what negotiators call loss and damage, when negative effects linked to climate change are sudden or potentially irreparable. Saeed Shah And Matthew Dalton, WSJ, 16 Nov. 2022 Why should our granddaughter be robbed of this special relationship just because, all of a sudden, Dad got together with a girlfriend who has two other kids? Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 13 Nov. 2022 There was confusion about who was impacted and incoming details, and layoffs were sudden enough that their legality is being questioned. Chloe Berger, Fortune, 9 Nov. 2022 But the collapse hasn’t been sudden or surprising — scientists like Luft and Baxter warned about it long before the lake hit its current record low. Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Nov. 2022 And then if John Fetterman is able to flip Pennsylvania to the Democrats, all of a sudden, the Democrats have some opportunities. ABC News, 6 Nov. 2022 Although the timing is sudden, the move would clear some distractions for the Celtics. Adam Himmelsbach, BostonGlobe.com, 1 Nov. 2022 And so, all of a sudden, everyone needs to learn how to cook. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, 21 Oct. 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.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

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

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1558, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near sudden

Cite this Entry

“Sudden.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sudden. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

sudden

adjective

sud·​den
ˈsəd-ᵊn
1
a
: happening or coming unexpectedly
a sudden shower
b
: changing angle or character all at once
a sudden turn in the road
2
: marked by or showing haste
a sudden decision
3
: made or brought about in a short time
a sudden cure
all of a sudden
: sooner than was expected : suddenly
suddenly adverb
suddenness
ˈsəd-ᵊn-(n)əs
noun

More from Merriam-Webster on sudden

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