[ 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.

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)


sus·pense·ful, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for suspenses

  • She depicted the character of her husband, and the whole train of suspenses and inquietudes occasioned by his disappearance.

    Arthur Mervyn|Charles Brockden Brown
  • What perplexities, misunderstandings, and suspenses might not grow out of this uncertainty?

    Arthur Mervyn|Charles Brockden Brown

British Dictionary definitions for suspenses

/ (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 forms of suspense

suspenseful, 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