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cliffhanger

or cliff-hang·er

[klif-hang-er]
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noun
  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.
  3. a suspenseful movie, novel, etc.
  4. the suspenseful ending itself.
  5. 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.
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Origin of cliffhanger

An Americanism dating back to 1935–40
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

storyyarnfictiontalenarrativeprosepaperbacknovellatensionanxietyapprehensionconfusionuncertaintydoubtinsecuritythrillerdramanovelmythimagination

British Dictionary definitions for cliff-hanger

cliffhanger

noun
    1. a situation of imminent disaster usually occurring at the end of each episode of a serialized film
    2. the serialized film itself
  1. a situation that is dramatic or uncertain
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Derived Formscliffhanging, 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

Word Origin and History for cliff-hanger

n.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper