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penny dreadful

noun, plural penny dreadfuls. Chiefly British
a cheap, sensational novel of adventure, crime, or violence; dime novel.
1870-75 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for penny dreadful
  • They can read the penny dreadful, but they cannot darn their stockings or mend their clothes.
Encyclopedia Article for penny dreadful


an inexpensive novel of violent adventure or crime that was especially popular in mid-to-late Victorian England. Penny dreadfuls were often issued in eight-page installments. The appellation, like dime novel and shilling shocker, usually connotes rather careless and second-rate writing as well as gory themes

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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