[ suhd-n ]
See synonyms for: suddensuddenlysuddenness on

  1. happening, coming, made, or done quickly, without warning, or unexpectedly: a sudden attack.

  2. occurring without transition from the previous form, state, etc.; abrupt: a sudden turn.

  1. Archaic. quickly made or provided.

  2. Obsolete. unpremeditated.

  1. Literary. without warning; suddenly.

  1. Obsolete. an unexpected occasion or occurrence.

Idioms about sudden

  1. 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.

Other words for sudden

1, 2 unforeseen, unanticipated
See synonyms for sudden on

Opposites for sudden

Other words from sudden

  • sud·den·ly, adverb
  • sud·den·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sudden in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sudden


/ (ˈsʌdən) /

  1. occurring or performed quickly and without warning

  2. marked by haste; abrupt

  1. rare rash; precipitate

  1. archaic an abrupt occurrence or the occasion of such an occurrence (in the phrase on a sudden)

  2. all of a sudden without warning; unexpectedly

  1. mainly poetic without warning; suddenly

Origin of sudden

C13: via French from Late Latin subitāneus, from Latin subitus unexpected, from subīre to happen unexpectedly, from sub- secretly + īre to go

Derived forms of sudden

  • suddenness, noun

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

Other 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.