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cliff-hanger

or cliffhanger

[klif-hang-er] /ˈklɪfˌhæŋ ər/
noun
1.
a melodramatic adventure serial in which each installment ends in suspense in order to interest the reader or viewer in the next installment.
2.
a situation or contest of which the outcome is suspensefully uncertain up to the very last moment:
The game was a cliff-hanger, but our team finally won.
Origin of cliff-hanger
1935-1940
1935-40, Americanism
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Word Origin and History for cliff-hanger
n.

also cliffhanger, "suspenseful situation," 1937, in reference to U.S. cinema serials, agent noun from cliff + agent noun from hang (v.). In some cases, especially Westerns, the hero or heroine literally was dangling from a cliff at the end of an episode.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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