from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Unexpectedly sudden: an abrupt change in the weather.
  • adj. Surprisingly curt; brusque: an abrupt answer made in anger.
  • adj. Touching on one subject after another with sudden transitions: abrupt prose.
  • adj. Steeply inclined. See Synonyms at steep1.
  • adj. Botany Terminating suddenly rather than gradually; truncate: an abrupt leaf.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Broken off; very steep, or craggy, as rocks, precipices, banks; precipitous; steep.
  • adj. Without notice to prepare the mind for the event; sudden; hasty; unceremonious.
  • adj. Having sudden transitions from one subject to another; unconnected.
  • adj. Suddenly terminating, as if cut off.
  • n. An abrupt place.
  • transitive v. To tear off or asunder.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Broken or appearing as if broken away or off; marked by or showing a sudden breach or change of continuity; wanting continuation or completion: as, the path or the discourse came to an abrupt termination; an abrupt turn in a road. Hence Steep; precipitous: as, an abrupt cliff; an abrupt descent.
  • Figuratively, sudden; without notice to prepare the mind for the event; unceremonious: as, an abrupt entrance or address.
  • Lacking in continuity; having sudden transitions from one subject to another: as, an abrupt style.
  • In botany, terminating suddenly: as, an abrupt point: sometimes used in the sense of truncate: as, an abrupt leaf.
  • n. An abrupt place; a precipice or chasm.
  • To break off; interrupt; disturb.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. extremely steep
  • adj. surprisingly and unceremoniously brusque in manner
  • adj. marked by sudden changes in subject and sharp transitions
  • adj. exceedingly sudden and unexpected


Latin abruptus, past participle of abrumpere, to break off : ab-, away; see ab-1 + rumpere, to break; see reup- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)



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