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All of a sudden

Posted by David FG on March 26, 2009 at 18:48

In Reply to: All of a sudden posted by Smokey Stover on March 26, 2009 at 17:27:

: : : Where does the phrase 'all of a sudden' originate?

: : We've had a discussion about this before. 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:


I remember being 'forced' out of using it by a schoolmaster when I was about 8. He refused to allow it, saying that it could (and should) always be replaced by 'suddenly'.

The lesson (whether right or wrong) has stuck with me ever since.