[ suhd-n ]
/ ˈsʌd n /
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See synonyms for: sudden / suddenly / suddenness on Thesaurus.com



Literary. without warning; suddenly.


Obsolete. an unexpected occasion or occurrence.



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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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Idioms for sudden

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

Origin of sudden

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English adjective and adverb sodain, soden, sodan(e) from Middle French soudain, from Vulgar Latin subitānus, from Latin subitāneus “going or coming stealthily,” equivalent to subitus “sudden, arising without warning” + -āneus composite adjective suffix, equivalent to -ānus + -eus; see origin at subito,-an, -eous

synonym study for sudden

1, 2. 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.


sud·den·ly, adverbsud·den·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for sudden

British Dictionary definitions for sudden

/ (ˈsʌdən) /


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 forms of sudden

suddenness, 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

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.