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suspense

[suh-spens]
noun
  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.
  3. undecided or doubtful condition, as of affairs: For a few days matters hung in suspense.
  4. the state or condition of being suspended.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


Examples from the Web for suspenses

Historical Examples

  • 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

suspense

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

Word Origin

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 suspenses

suspense

n.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper