[ suh-spen-shuhn ]
/ səˈspɛn ʃən /
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Origin of suspension

1520–30; <Latin suspēnsiōn- (stem of suspēnsiō), equivalent to suspēns(us) (see suspense) + -iōn--ion


non·sus·pen·sion, nounpre·sus·pen·sion, nounre·sus·pen·sion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does suspension mean?

Suspension most commonly means a stoppage or withholding of something, especially a temporary one, as in The parade requires a temporary suspension of traffic. 

Suspension is the noun form of the verb suspend. The most common and general meanings of suspend are to hang something by attaching it to something else, to cause to stop, to bring to a stop, or to postpone. Most meanings of suspension are based on these meanings of suspend in some way.

Suspension has several specific meanings.

It can refer to an official punishment of someone, such as an employee, student, or athlete, in which they are not allowed to participate in an activity for a certain period of time, as in He is serving a five-game suspension for fighting. A person is said to serve a suspension (much like how a person is said to serve a prison sentence). A person serving a suspension is said to be suspended.

In cars and some other vehicles, the suspension (or suspension system) is the collective system (of parts like springs and shock absorbers) that supports the body of the vehicle and is intended to reduce the amount of bumpiness being transmitted from the wheels to the rest of the vehicle.

In chemistry, suspension most commonly refers to a liquid or other substance in which solid particles are mixed but not dissolved—muddy water is a basic example.

Where does suspension come from?

The first records of the word suspension in English come from the 1520s. The verb suspend is recorded earlier, in the 1200s, and comes from the Latin verb suspendere, meaning “to hang up.”

Most meanings of suspend can be divided into those that are based on the literal meaning of hang up—”to hang something by attaching it to something else”—or those that are based on the more idiomatic meaning of hang up—”to delay or postpone.”

This second meaning is the basis of the most common use of suspension—a temporary stoppage.

When there is a suspension of some activity, it is stopped altogether, usually in an official way, but often temporarily. Government agencies might order the suspension of air travel for safety reasons or the management of a struggling company might order the suspension of hiring.

Suspension commonly refers to the temporary stoppage of participation in an activity as a form of punishment. This kind of suspension often results from a serious violation of the rules, such as a student who cheats on a test or a professional athlete who tests positive for having used banned substances. Such suspensions are often for a set amount of time or, in the case of pro athletes, a certain number of games.

In music, suspension refers to delaying the end of a tone in a chord so that it runs into the next chord.

Suspension of disbelief is the practice of postponing or ignoring the skepticism you have about unrealistic parts of a story in order to enjoy it. (If you can believe it, the term was coined by poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1817.)

We’re glad you’ve hung around to hear the senses of suspension that involve something that’s hanging from or in something else.

In the context of chemistry, a suspension involves particles that are just hanging there in a liquid, undissolved. (If the suspension is left alone, the particles will eventually settle to the bottom.)

A suspension bridge is a bridge whose deck (the surface on which people walk or drive) is hung from cables.

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What are some other forms of suspension?

  • suspend (verb)
  • nonsuspension (noun)
  • resuspension (noun)
  • presuspension (noun)

What are some synonyms for suspension?

What are some words that share a root or word element with suspension

What are some words that often get used in discussing suspension?


How is suspension used in real life?

Suspension is a very common word that’s used in many different contexts. Most of the time it involves something that’s been temporarily stopped or something that’s hanging in some way.



Try using suspension!

Which of the following words is an antonym (opposite) of suspension when it refers to a stoppage?

A. freeze
B. postponement
C. continuation
D. halt

How to use suspension in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for suspension

/ (səˈspɛnʃən) /

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

Scientific definitions for suspension

[ sə-spĕnshən ]

A mixture in which small particles of a substance are dispersed throughout a gas or liquid. If a suspension is left undisturbed, the particles are likely to settle to the bottom. The particles in a suspension are larger than those in either a colloid or a solution. Muddy water is an example of a suspension. Compare colloid solution.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.