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As far as the translation of the word 'suddenly' my dictionary has these two^. Are they any different or is one more common than the other? ありがとう

  • 「急に」 also means "suddenly" and is very common. – istrasci Mar 3 '16 at 15:36
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突然 is more common, because its meaning is broader than that of どっと.
突然 is just "suddenly." どっと does have meaning of suddenness, but usage of どっと is limited to those 3 situation, according to Digital Daijirin.

  1. Lots of people letting out their voice at the same time.
  2. Lots of people / things coming at one time.
  3. Becoming (seriously) ill in a short time.

We use どっと like this:

  1. 観客{かんきゃく}がどっと笑{わら}いだす (The audience bursts into laughter)
  2. 人々がどっと押{お}し寄{よ}せる (The crowd surges forward)
  3. どっと病{やまい}が重{おも}くなる (Become seriously ill suddenly.) (sentence from the reference)

All of which can be also said, using 突然 instead of どっと:

  1. 観客が突然笑いだす
  2. 人々が突然押し寄せる
  3. 突然病が重くなる

But, this is not true for the converse. Saying:

[x] パソコンがどっと壊{こわ}れる

instead of パソコンが突然壊れる (the PC suddenly breaks down) is weird.


I think どっと came from manga - under those 3 situation, I see onomatopoeias "どっ" "ドッ" being used. どっ+と(particle indicating how an action is done.)

snaliboat pointed out that どっと being used way back in 1220s. In 金刀比羅本保元, there's a sentence that goes:

西の河原に時をどっと作ること三ヶ度なり

So どっと existed from the past. I'm figuring out what this means, though.

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