Try Our Apps


Gobble up these 8 terms for eating


[suh-spens] /səˈspɛns/
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.
a state of mental indecision.
undecided or doubtful condition, as of affairs:
For a few days matters hung in suspense.
the state or condition of being suspended.
Origin of suspense
late Middle English
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 forms
suspenseful, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for suspense
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I waited on tenterhooks; then I could bear the suspense no longer.'

  • He awaited, in an agony of suspense, the rattle of the musketry.

  • All that dreadful scene, all those moments of suspense too terrible even to be borne, they returned to her memory.

  • It was a moment of suspense, for neither liked the other at first sight.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • In an agony of suspense they got the four men into the boats, eagerly asking where the others were, and in what state.

    On the Spanish Main John Masefield
British Dictionary definitions for suspense


the condition of being insecure or uncertain: the matter of the succession remained in suspense for many years
mental uncertainty; anxiety: their father's illness kept them in a state of suspense
excitement felt at the approach of the climax: a play of terrifying suspense
the condition of being suspended
Derived Forms
suspenseful, 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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for suspense

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Word Value for suspense

Scrabble Words With Friends