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1. Happening without warning; unforeseen: a sudden storm.
2. Happening or done without delay; hasty or immediate: a sudden decision.
3. Characterized by sharp change in elevation; precipitous: a sudden drop in the ocean floor.
all of a sudden
Very quickly and unexpectedly; suddenly.

[Middle English sodain, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *subitānus, from Latin subitāneus, from subitus, from past participle of subīre, to approach stealthily : sub-, secretly; see sub- + īre, to go; see ei- in Indo-European roots.]

sud′den·ly adv.
sud′den·ness n.




  1. Abrupt as a sultry little thunder shower —Amy Leslie
  2. Abruptly as string that snaps beneath the bow —Ernest William Hornung
  3. Abruptly, like a summer rainstorm —Derek Lambert
  4. Abrupt, startling shock, like the slap of a wet towel —Norman Mailer
  5. All at once, like the wind dispersing storm clouds at a single puff —Lawrence Durrell
  6. Appear suddenly as if out of a fold of the air —Iris Murdoch
  7. Arbitrary as a cyclone —Anon
  8. Burst into the room like a bullet crashing through a window —Guy De Maupassant

    See Also: BURST

  9. Didn’t expect it … like a storm on a very fine day —Ivan Turgenev
  10. He was with them as suddenly as a gift, as if an arm had thrust in a bunch of roses or a telegram —Eudora Welty
  11. (A reflex as) immediate as a sneeze —Leigh Allison Wilson

    A common variation: “Sudden as a sneeze.”

  12. Steep as a broom handle —Elizabeth Spencer
  13. Steep as hell’s half acre —George MacDonald Fraser
  14. Stopped all of a sudden, as if he had been shot —William Makepeace Thackeray
  15. Sudden and foolish as that almost silent fart —George Garrett


  16. Sudden as a burst of hiccuping —Anon

    This and the entries that follow typify the simile that develops new twists from conversation to conversation, writer to writer.

  17. Sudden as a dislocated joint slipping back into place —Anon
  18. Sudden as a massacre —Anon
  19. Sudden as a meteor shooting across the sky —Anon
  20. Sudden as an epileptic seizure —Anon
  21. Sudden as a stitch in your side —Anon
  22. Sudden as a summer shower —Anon
  23. Sudden as a tornado swooping down on a small town —Alistair Cooke, Public Television, March 8, 1987

    The comparison referring to the suddenness of the first World War was made during an introduction to an episode in the “Lost Empire” series.

  24. [Call of a jaybird] sudden as conscience —Robert Penn Warren
  25. Sudden as the stopping of breath —Mary Lee Settle
  26. (The end was) sudden, like a foolish play —Karl Shapiro
  27. Suddenly, as a train comes out of a tunnel —Virginia Woolf
  28. Suddenly, like a pair of obscene words, (there appeared on the path two boys) —Truman Capote
  29. Sudden resolutions, like the sudden rise of the mercury in the barometer, indicate little else than the changeableness of the weather —Julius Charles Hare and Augustus William Hare
  30. Sudden, surprising … it is like encountering a pun in a telephone directory —Karl E. Meyer
  31. Too sudden … like the lightning —William Shakespeare
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.Suddenness - the quality of happening with headlong haste or without warningsuddenness - the quality of happening with headlong haste or without warning
haste, hastiness, hurriedness, hurry, precipitation - overly eager speed (and possible carelessness); "he soon regretted his haste"
skjótleiki; skynding
anî olma


[ˈsʌdnnɪs] N
1. (= speed) → lo repentino
I do wonder at the suddenness of his decisionme sorprende lo repentino or lo súbito de su decisión
it had all happened with terrifying suddennesstodo había ocurrido con una rapidez espantosa
having started suddenly, the pain stops with equal suddennesshabiendo empezado repentinamente, el dolor cesa con la misma rapidez
2. (= unexpectedness) → lo inesperado
the suddenness of his resignationlo inesperado or imprevisto de su dimisión
3. (= abruptness) → brusquedad f
the car came to a halt with a suddenness that sent her jerking forwardel coche se paró con tal brusquedad que la lanzó hacia adelante


[ˈsʌdənnɪs] n [attack, movement, death, change] → soudaineté f


nPlötzlichkeit f; (of movement also)Jähheit f, → Abruptheit f


[ˈsʌdnnɪs] n the suddenness of his death/departurela sua morte/partenza improvvisa


(ˈsadn) adjective
happening etc quickly and unexpectedly. a sudden attack; His decision to get married is rather sudden!; a sudden bend in the road.
ˈsuddenness noun
ˈsuddenly adverb
He suddenly woke up; Suddenly she realized that the stranger had a gun.
all of a sudden
suddenly or unexpectedly. All of a sudden the lights went out.
References in classic literature ?
Her poses were full of grace, and her little black-shod toes twinkled as they shot out and upward with a rapidity and suddenness which were bewildering.
The suddenness of the flight of his guide, and the wild cries of the pursuers, caused Heyward to remain fixed, for a few moments, in inactive surprise.
The schoolmaster now bestowed both whip and heel upon the starveling ribs of old Gunpowder, who dashed forward, snuffling and snorting, but came to a stand just by the bridge, with a suddenness that had nearly sent his rider sprawling over his head.
What had happened naturally caused them all to stare; there was too little of the explained, throw out whatever we might, in the suddenness of my colleague's act.
The suddenness of the shock made the guns leap in their carriages, and several of the men were shaken out of their hammocks.
Just as he came to the park gates the little thing turned toward them; the man, without word or warning, wrenched the creature's head round with such a force and suddenness that he nearly threw it on its haunches.
Now at the very END of this riot, within four feet of the end of the picture, and full thirty-six feet from the beginning of it, the Hair Trunk bursts with an electrifying suddenness upon the spectator, in all its matchless perfection, and the great master's triumph is sweeping and complete.
If the words had been lightning they could not have leaped with a more stunning suddenness from Huck's blanched lips.
She was frightened at the storm in her heart; at the suddenness with which it had come on, as well as at the strangeness of an entirely new sensation.
Not more than five couple could be mustered; but the rarity and the suddenness of it made it very delightful, and she found herself well matched in a partner.
Vanstone's two daughters (and two only surviving children) dashed into view on the dingy old oaken stairs, with the suddenness of a flash of light; and clearing the last three steps into the hall at a jump, presented herself breathless in the breakfast-room to make the family circle complete.
Once more, the two spectators started, as he turned upon her with a frightful suddenness.