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[thril-er] /ˈθrɪl ər/
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 Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for thriller
  • Had she been living today, she might have been any of the mystery or thriller writers who write a book a year.
  • Everybody now believes he or she can write the next highly acclaimed indie character study or the next blockbuster thriller.
  • But, as in a thriller, no sooner had the book's trajectory been established than it was reversed.
  • But then something unexpected happens, the kind of reversal you need in any effective thriller.
  • For a vampire thriller, your book has an awful lot of actual history in it.
  • It could have taken up several pages of a spy thriller.
  • It is part horror, part thriller, featuring a couple of hitmen on a mercenary killing spree.
  • Which may be one reason why, as a setting, it lends itself so well to the imagination of thriller writers.
  • Their attempts to find a solution have sometimes seemed to spring from the pages of an overwrought thriller.
  • The whole scenario can be likened to a movie thriller.
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
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Word Origin and History for thriller

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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thriller in Culture

thriller definition

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

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

three-time loser

noun phrase

A criminal who has been convicted several times and is in jeopardy of an automatic life sentence in some states if convicted again; hence a hardened and perhaps dangerous criminal (1914+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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