In Reply to: Re: All of a sudden posted by ESC on March 26, 2009 at 15:40:
: : Where does the phrase 'all of a sudden' originate?
: We've had a discussion about this before. http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/26/messages/1166.html But we didn't come up with anything conclusive. I think, just a guess, that the phrase has its roots in silent films. Kind of like "Meanwhile, back at the ranch."
Victoria's discussion, now archived, explained the term very well. The expression, "of a sudden," was the most common form, found in the literature perused by the OED in 1570, and not yet completely obsolete. The OED found the form "all of a sudden" in a work written in 1681-66. This, of couse, is the most popular form today.
An alternative form, "on the sudden," has had a similar life-span, although the OED found it a bit earlier than the other.
Where did it come from? Well, the noun, sudden, is the modern spelling a word come to us from Anglo-French, "soudain." This, in turn, can probably be traced back to the Latin, "subire," to come or go stealthily.
I'm referring agaub to Victoria's explanation: