or cliff-hang·er

[ klif-hang-er ]
See synonyms for cliffhanger on
  1. a melodramatic or adventure serial in which each installment ends in suspense in order to interest the reader or viewer in the next installment.

  2. a single installment in such a serial.

  1. a suspenseful movie, novel, etc.

  2. the suspenseful ending itself.

  3. a situation or contest of which the outcome is suspensefully uncertain up to the very last moment: The game was a cliffhanger, but our team finally won.

Origin of cliffhanger

An Americanism dating back to 1935–40 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

British Dictionary definitions for cliffhanger


/ (ˈklɪfˌhæŋə) /

    • a situation of imminent disaster usually occurring at the end of each episode of a serialized film

    • the serialized film itself

  1. a situation that is dramatic or uncertain

Derived forms of cliffhanger

  • 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