Definitions

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

  • noun Anxiety or apprehension resulting from an uncertain, undecided, or mysterious situation.
  • noun The quality in a work of narrative art, such as a novel or film, that causes the audience to experience pleasurable excitement and anticipation regarding an outcome.
  • noun Archaic The state or quality of being undecided, uncertain, or indecisive.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To suspend.
  • Held or lifted up; suspended.
  • Held in doubt or expectation; also, expressing or proceeding from suspense or doubt.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Cessation for a time; stop.
  • noun Suspension; a holding in an undetermined state.
  • noun 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The state of being suspended; specifically, a state of uncertainty and expectation, with anxiety or apprehension; indetermination; indecision.
  • noun Cessation for a time; stop; pause.
  • noun (Law) 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.
  • noun (Bookkeeping) an account in which receipts or disbursements are temporarily entered until their proper position in the books is determined.
  • adjective obsolete Held or lifted up; held or prevented from proceeding.
  • adjective obsolete Expressing, or proceeding from, suspense or doubt.

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

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Middle English suspense, delay, uncertainty, from Old French souspense, from souspens, suspended, from Latin suspēnsus, past participle of suspendere, to suspend; see suspend.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman suspens as in en suspens, from Old French suspens.

Examples

Comments

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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