[ suh-spens ]
See synonyms for: suspensesuspenseful on

  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.

  1. undecided or doubtful condition, as of affairs: For a few days matters hung in suspense.

  2. the state or condition of being suspended.

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)

Other words from suspense

  • sus·pense·ful, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use suspense in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for suspense


/ (səˈspɛns) /

  1. the condition of being insecure or uncertain: the matter of the succession remained in suspense for many years

  2. mental uncertainty; anxiety: their father's illness kept them in a state of suspense

  1. excitement felt at the approach of the climax: a play of terrifying suspense

  2. the condition of being suspended

Origin of suspense

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

Derived forms of suspense

  • suspenseful, 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