[ suh-spens ]
/ səˈspɛns /


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.
a state of mental indecision.
undecided or doubtful condition, as of affairs: For a few days matters hung in suspense.
the state or condition of being suspended.

Nearby words

  1. suspend,
  2. suspended animation,
  3. suspended sentence,
  4. suspender,
  5. suspender belt,
  6. suspense account,
  7. suspenseful,
  8. suspenser,
  9. suspensible,
  10. suspension

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for suspenseful

British Dictionary definitions for suspenseful


/ (səˈspɛns) /


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

Word Origin for suspense

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 suspenseful



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper