Origin of cliffhanger
British Dictionary definitions for cliff-hanger
- a situation of imminent disaster usually occurring at the end of each episode of a serialized film
- the serialized film itself
Word Origin and History for cliff-hanger
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.