Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The condition of being physically suspended.
  • n. The state or quality of being undecided, uncertain, or doubtful.
  • n. Pleasurable excitement and anticipation regarding an outcome, such as the ending of a mystery novel.
  • n. Anxiety or apprehension resulting from an uncertain, undecided, or mysterious situation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. the condition of being suspended
  • n. the pleasurable emotion of anticipation and excitement regarding the outcome or climax of a book, film etc
  • n. the unpleasant emotion of anxiety or apprehension in an uncertain situation

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Held or lifted up; held or prevented from proceeding.
  • adj. Expressing, or proceeding from, suspense or doubt.
  • n. The state of being suspended; specifically, a state of uncertainty and expectation, with anxiety or apprehension; indetermination; indecision.
  • n. Cessation for a time; stop; pause.
  • n. A temporary cessation of one's right; suspension, as when the rent or other profits of land cease by unity of possession of land and rent.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To suspend.
  • Held or lifted up; suspended.
  • Held in doubt or expectation; also, expressing or proceeding from suspense or doubt.
  • n. The state of being suspended; specifically, the state of having the mind or thoughts suspended; especially, a state of uncertainty, usually with more or less apprehension or anxiety; indetermination; indecision.
  • n. Cessation for a time; stop.
  • n. Suspension; a holding in an undetermined state.
  • n. In law, suspension; a temporary cessation of a man's right, as when the rent or other profits of land cease by unity of possession of land and rent.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. apprehension about what is going to happen
  • n. excited anticipation of an approaching climax
  • n. an uncertain cognitive state

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French suspens, from Latin suspēnsus, past participle of suspendere, to suspend; see suspend.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman suspens as in en suspens, from Old French suspens. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • "Perhaps it is no coincidence that the Army’s term for a deadline is a "suspense," sometimes abbreviated simply "S:" and followed by a date. The first time I was told that I had to "meet a suspense," I didn’t know where to turn, but now I understand the aptness of referring even to an end by a term most of us associate with uncertainty. The Army is a life of perpetual suspense: the soldier waits for war to begin and then waits for it to end."
    - The New York Times, September 30, 2007

    September 29, 2007