Today's Word of the Day means...


[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.
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. 2014.
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Examples for suspenseful
  • It's what makes the fight scenes somewhat suspenseful.
  • Expectations of a long, suspenseful wait accounted in part for the mood of grim determination that many voters seemed to show.
  • Despite the otherworldly conceit, it is a stylish, well-made crime show that is suspenseful but not scary enough to disturb sleep.
  • It is suspenseful, horrifying and at times intensely moving.
  • During a suspenseful part, slow down and lower your voice.
  • It is better to stop reading at a suspenseful point than to risk listener fatigue.
  • He borrowed numerous theatrical devices and translated them to his canvases to create dramatic, suspenseful scenes.
  • These and other suspenseful, and delightful, stories of our maritime past are here for your discovery.
  • Beautifully written, deeply suspenseful, this is a book you won't want to put down.
  • Crowds held their breaths in suspenseful wonderment, then the engine sputtered and the propeller spun around.
British Dictionary definitions for suspenseful


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
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Word Origin and History for suspenseful
1402, "not being executed, unfulfilled" (of legal matters), from Anglo-Fr. suspens (in en suspens "in abeyance," 1306), from O.Fr. suspens "act of suspending," from L. suspensus, pp. of suspendere (see suspend). Meaning "state of mental uncertainty" (1440) 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
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