Literary. suddenly.


Obsolete. an unexpected occasion or occurrence.


    all of a sudden, without warning; unexpectedly; suddenly.Also on a sudden.

Origin of sudden

1250–1300; Middle English sodain (adj. and adv.) < Middle French < Latin subitāneus going or coming stealthily, equivalent to subit(us) sudden, taking by surprise (see subito) + -āneus composite adj. suffix, equivalent to -ān(us) -an + -eus -eous
Related formssud·den·ly, adverbsud·den·ness, noun

Synonyms for sudden

1, 2. unforeseen, unanticipated. Sudden, unexpected, abrupt describe acts, events, or conditions for which there has been no preparation or gradual approach. Sudden refers to the quickness of an occurrence, although the event may have been expected: a sudden change in the weather. Unexpected emphasizes the lack of preparedness for what occurs or appears: an unexpected crisis. Abrupt characterizes something involving a swift adjustment; the effect is often unpleasant, unfavorable, or the cause of dismay: He had an abrupt change in manner. The road came to an abrupt end.

Antonyms for sudden

1, 2. gradual, foreseen. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sudden

Contemporary Examples of sudden

Historical Examples of sudden

  • He seemed to make a strong effort to check some sudden impulse.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Mrs. Van Geist fixed her niece with a sudden look of suspicion.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Once it was that he had felt a sudden great longing for the life of a gay city.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • I might have paid them at the time, but it was all so unexpected and so sudden,—it rattled me, quite.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • He was not naturally bad, but he had fallen a victim to sudden temptation.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

British Dictionary definitions for sudden



occurring or performed quickly and without warning
marked by haste; abrupt
rare rash; precipitate


archaic an abrupt occurrence or the occasion of such an occurrence (in the phrase on a sudden)
all of a sudden without warning; unexpectedly


mainly poetic without warning; suddenly
Derived Formssuddenness, noun

Word Origin for sudden

C13: via French from Late Latin subitāneus, from Latin subitus unexpected, from subīre to happen unexpectedly, from sub- secretly + īre to go
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for sudden

late 13c., perhaps via Anglo-French sodein, from Old French subdain "immediate, sudden," from Vulgar Latin *subitanus, variant of Latin subitaneus "sudden," from subitus "come or go up stealthily," from sub "up to" + ire "come, go." Phrase all of a sudden first attested 1680s, earlier of a sudayn (1590s), upon the soden (1550s). Sudden death, tie-breakers in sports, first recorded 1927; earlier in reference to coin tosses (1834).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with sudden


see all of a sudden.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.