Definition of sudden in US English:



  • Occurring or done quickly and unexpectedly or without warning.

    ‘a sudden bright flash’
    • ‘Fans of the show understand that the most hilarious visual joke might immediately be followed by sudden tragedy.’
    • ‘I felt a sudden urge to come home as quickly as possible so that I could discuss this with my father.’
    • ‘He was working down Turner Shaft one day when there was a sudden rock fall which buried him and killed him instantly.’
    • ‘Much of this comes in sudden downpours in spring and autumn which sometimes cause devastating flash floods.’
    • ‘An elderly monk presented with a sharp thoracic back pain of sudden onset and shortness of breath.’
    • ‘I saw it in the sudden stiffening of his posture and the sharp flash in his hazel eyes.’
    • ‘Having a credit card can be invaluable if you have a sudden and unexpected expense, or even if you've just overspent.’
    • ‘The sudden release of the stored chlorine allows rapid destruction of ozone to occur and the ozone hole is formed.’
    • ‘Injuries to the eye, such as sudden force from a flying stone, or sharp poke in the eye, can cause a cataract to develop.’
    • ‘The car's hazard warning lights automatically switch on with sudden braking or in a collision.’
    • ‘He had a sudden, blinding flash of pain and felt his legs going numb.’
    • ‘Antipsychotic drugs should also be considered in unexplained sudden deaths in psychotic patients.’
    • ‘I wasn't expecting moments of sudden and beautiful revelation, empathy, kinship.’
    • ‘However, it was a sudden dip in the dollar's value that spurred speculative activity.’
    • ‘To a schoolboy like myself at the time, they were a sudden flash of lightning that lit a dark landscape.’
    • ‘However, the condition can lead to sudden and unexpected death, often in early adulthood.’
    • ‘Kees said the decision to go on their own was not sudden but one which had been in the pipeline for quite some time.’
    • ‘They were caused by a sudden violent downpour which drains were unable to cope with.’
    • ‘At this altitude the wind would cause the carefully tended lawn to tremble with a chill, sudden and shocking.’
    • ‘The results represent a sudden and widespread shift in public mood in Britain.’
    unexpected, unforeseen, unanticipated, unlooked-for, without warning, without notice, not bargained for
    View synonyms


literary, informal
  • Suddenly.

    ‘sudden there swooped an eagle downward’
    • ‘Susie stayed on in the little place they had till she died very sudden.’
    immediately, instantaneously, instantly, in an instant, straight away, all of a sudden, at once, all at once, promptly, abruptly, in a trice, swiftly
    View synonyms


  • (all) of a sudden

    • Suddenly.

      ‘I feel really tired all of a sudden’
      • ‘All of a sudden, the badger twitched, jumped up and strolled across the road to safety.’
      • ‘All of a sudden, you're face to face with a black, hairy spider the size of a beach ball.’
      • ‘All of a sudden, his stride changed - his floppy ears dropped like a lop-eared rabbit.’
      • ‘All of a sudden the white car pulled out and rammed into the blue car.’
      • ‘All of a sudden, from beating Newcastle and Everton, they are losing to Fulham and Charlton.’
      • ‘All of a sudden, the normal drone of the training room was shattered by peals of laughter!’
      • ‘All of a sudden, he's being asked to dinner by leading writers and noblemen.’
      • ‘As is typical of such storms, the main rainfall came of a sudden, like the turning of a tap in the heavens.’
      • ‘All of a sudden, the sky cleared, became blue and a perfect rainbow arched over me with one end in the sand.’
      • ‘All of a sudden the kind of behaviour that would have been typical in old New York seemed rude and inappropriate.’
      suddenly, immediately, instantaneously, instantly, in an instant, straight away, at once, all at once, promptly, abruptly, in a trice, swiftly
      View synonyms
  • on a sudden

    • archaic Suddenly.

      ‘on a sudden a gleam of hope appeared’


Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French sudein, from an alteration of Latin subitaneus, from subitus ‘sudden’.