What Does All of a Sudden Mean?

All of a Sudden Meaning

Definition: Used to describe an unexpected event that happened without forewarning.

The phrase all of a sudden is used to refer to an event that was unanticipated. Essentially, it is a more poetic way of saying suddenly. The phrase was first coined by Shakespeare and may also be written as all of the sudden.

Origin of All of a Sudden

This phrase was coined by Shakespeare, and it first appeared in his 1596 play The Taming of the Shrew:

Is it possible That love should of a sodaine take hold?

This use features an antiquated spelling of the word sudden. Also, Shakespeare’s version does not include the word all. It is unclear how and when the phrase was lengthened to include this word.

Ways to Use All of a Sudden

meaning of all of the sudden This phrase is common in everyday English and has the same meaning as suddenly. It is most commonly used to describe events that occurred without forewarning, particularly those which are unexpected.

This phrase may also be written as all of the sudden. No matter which article is used, “a” or “the,” the phrase still has the same meaning.

Examples of All of a Sudden

all of a sudden or all of the suddenThis sample conversation between two friends illustrates the correct use of this phrase.

Ron: How was your hiking trip?

Warrick: We had the craziest time. We were setting up our tent and all of a sudden, we look up and see a black bear! We were lucky to get out of there alive.

More Examples

  • “When you protest, you’re marching and all of a sudden the sticks and stones, the beatings and the water hose is all over you.” – Chicago Tribune
  • “Russians love New York. [Many] with significant money have pied-a-terres here, and all of a sudden being in a Trump building might appeal to them,” Karadus says. – NY Post


The English phrase all of a sudden is another way of saying suddenly and is often used when recalling past events.