Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A melodramatic serial in which each episode ends in suspense.
  • noun A suspenseful situation occurring at the end of a chapter, scene, or episode.
  • noun A contest so closely matched that the outcome is uncertain until the end.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun a contest whose outcome is uncertain up to the very end.
  • noun an episode of a drama that ends in suspense.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun narratology An ending or stopping point calculated to leave a story unresolved, in order to create suspense.
  • noun by extension An outcome which is awaited with keen anticipation, especially one which is delayed for a period of time or which is not known until the last minute.

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

  • noun a contest whose outcome is uncertain up to the very end
  • noun an episode that ends in suspense

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From cliff +‎ hanger, evoking the image of someone left hanging from a cliff, thereby having an uncertain fate.

Examples

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