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or cliffhanger

[klif-hang-er] /ˈklɪfˌhæŋ ər/
a melodramatic adventure serial in which each installment ends in suspense in order to interest the reader or viewer in the next installment.
a situation or contest of which the outcome is suspensefully uncertain up to the very last moment:
The game was a cliff-hanger, but our team finally won.
Origin of cliff-hanger
1935-40, Americanism Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for cliffhanger


  1. a situation of imminent disaster usually occurring at the end of each episode of a serialized film
  2. the serialized film itself
a situation that is dramatic or uncertain
Derived Forms
cliffhanging, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cliffhanger



also cliffhanger, "suspenseful situation," 1937, in reference to U.S. cinema serials, agent noun from cliff + agent noun from hang (v.). In some cases, especially Westerns, the hero or heroine literally was dangling from a cliff at the end of an episode.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for cliffhanger



A very suspenseful story, film, game, situation, etc: The election was a cliffhanger, right through the recount

[1937+; fr the fact that the actress Pearl White actually ended some episodes of her early serial movies hanging from the Palisades above the Hudson River]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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