a person or thing that thrills.
an exciting, suspenseful play or story, especially a mystery story.

Origin of thriller

1885–90; 1920–25 for def 2; thrill + -er1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for thriller

Contemporary Examples of thriller

Historical Examples of thriller

  • How like a "thriller" it was to be rushing toward such a gripping scene!

    Spring Street

    James H. Richardson

  • If she only could write scenarios, what a thriller this would make!

    Exit Betty

    Grace Livingston Hill

  • “But a thriller,” Ace assured them, as Norris lighted his pipe on the lee of a bowlder.


    Allen Chaffee

  • This was a thriller that appealed to the familiar in him,—the impishness that died hard.

    Joyce of the North Woods

    Harriet T. Comstock

  • This is the weird, fantastic “thriller” from which sprang the Protocols.

    The History of a Lie

    Herman Bernstein

British Dictionary definitions for thriller



a book, film, play, etc, depicting crime, mystery, or espionage in an atmosphere of excitement and suspense
a person or thing that thrills
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 thriller

1889, "sensational story," agent noun from thrill (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

thriller in Culture


A suspenseful, sensational story or film: “Ken Follett writes best-selling spy thrillers.”


In Great Britain, the word thriller is sometimes used for all mystery novels: “Martha Grimes, an American, writes British-style thrillers.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.