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suspense

[suh-spens]
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noun
  1. a state or condition of mental uncertainty or excitement, as in awaiting a decision or outcome, usually accompanied by a degree of apprehension or anxiety.
  2. a state of mental indecision.
  3. undecided or doubtful condition, as of affairs: For a few days matters hung in suspense.
  4. the state or condition of being suspended.
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Origin of suspense

1375–1425; late Middle English < Medieval Latin suspēnsum deferment, suspension, uncertainty, noun use of neuter of Latin suspēnsus hung up, doubtful, in suspense (past participle of suspendere to hang up, leave undecided), equivalent to sus- sus- + pēnsus (pend-, stem of pendere (translation) to hang (see pend) + -tus past participle suffix, with dt > s)
Related formssus·pense·ful, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for suspense

suspense

noun
  1. the condition of being insecure or uncertainthe matter of the succession remained in suspense for many years
  2. mental uncertainty; anxietytheir father's illness kept them in a state of suspense
  3. excitement felt at the approach of the climaxa play of terrifying suspense
  4. the condition of being suspended
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Derived Formssuspenseful, adjective

Word Origin

C15: from Medieval Latin suspensum delay, from Latin suspendere to hang up; see suspend
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

Word Origin and History for suspense

n.

c.1400, "not being executed, unfulfilled" (of legal matters), from Anglo-French suspens (in en suspens "in abeyance," c.1300), from Old French suspens "act of suspending," from Latin suspensus, past participle of suspendere (see suspend). Meaning "state of mental uncertainty" (mid-15c.) is from legal meaning of "not rendered, not paid, not carried out" (e.g. suspended sentence). As a genre of novels, stories, etc., attested from 1952.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper