From Middle English sodeyn, sodain, from Anglo-Norman sodein, from Old French sodain, subdain (immediate, sudden), from Vulgar Latin *subitānus (sudden), from Latin subitāneus (sudden), from subitus (sudden", literally, "that which has come stealthily), originally the past participle of subīre (to come or go stealthily), from sub (under) + īre (go). Doublet of subitaneous.


  • IPA(key): /ˈsʌdən/, [ˈsʌdn̩]
  • (file)
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  • Rhymes: -ʌdən
  • Hyphenation: sud‧den


sudden (comparative more sudden, superlative most sudden)

  1. Happening quickly and with little or no warning.
    • 1552, The Boke of Common Prayer [etc.][1], The Letanie:
      From lightninges and tempeſtes, from plage, peſtilence, and famine, from battayle and murther, and from ſodayn death. / Good lord deliver us.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 1, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      I stumbled along through the young pines and huckleberry bushes. Pretty soon I struck into a sort of path that, I cal'lated, might lead to the road I was hunting for. It twisted and turned, and, the first thing I knew, made a sudden bend around a bunch of bayberry scrub and opened out into a big clear space like a lawn.
    The sudden drop in temperature left everyone cold and confused.
  2. (obsolete) Hastily prepared or employed; quick; rapid.
    • c. 1599, Shakespeare, William, Henry V, act 1, scene 1:
      Never was such a sudden scholar made.
    • 1649, Milton, John, Eikonoklastes:
      Thus these pious flourishes and colours, examined thoroughly, are like the apples of Asphaltis, appearing goodly to the sudden eye; but look well upon them, or at least but touch them, and they turn into cinders.
  3. (obsolete) Hasty; violent; rash; precipitate.



Derived termsEdit



sudden (comparative more sudden, superlative most sudden)

  1. (poetic) Suddenly.
    • (Can we date this quote by Milton and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Herbs of every leaf that sudden flowered.


sudden (plural suddens)

  1. (obsolete) An unexpected occurrence; a surprise.

Derived termsEdit


Further readingEdit