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penny dreadful

noun, plural penny dreadfuls. Chiefly British.
a cheap, sensational novel of adventure, crime, or violence; dime novel.
Origin of penny dreadful
First recorded in 1870-75 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for penny dreadful
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  • He did for the penny dreadful what Coleridge had done for the penny ballad.

  • That they were the "light reading" of adults, the equivalent of to-day's Ally Sloper or the penny dreadful, is much more probable.

  • My remembrance of Irish county towns at that time is that no literature flourished except the penny dreadful and the local press.

    Imaginations and Reveries (A.E.) George William Russell
  • I used it in the approved style of the penny dreadful—pointed it with a stiff arm at my friend's head.

    From Sea to Sea Rudyard Kipling
  • If this were done, literature of the "penny dreadful" description would to a great extent be excluded.

  • To drive the penny dreadful out of the literary field is not a task beyond the powers of organization and enterprise.

  • "Some lazy loafer reading a penny dreadful," I thought, glancing at him, then at the title of his book.

    In Search of the Unknown Robert W. Chambers
  • To Mr. Palmer's "penny dreadful" plot, the local newspapers add lying details of their own.

  • Transcriber's Note: This book was originally published in "penny dreadful" form.

    Varney the Vampire Thomas Preskett Prest

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