penny dreadful


: a novel of violent adventure or crime
penny-dreadful adjective

Examples of penny dreadful in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The musical is about revenge, while the penny dreadful is about greed. Laura Zornosa, Time, 7 July 2023 The character of Sweeney Todd—a British barber jailed unjustly for 15 years who seeks revenge upon his return—first appeared in a Victorian era penny dreadful, The String of Pearls. Laura Zornosa, Time, 7 July 2023 The program is filled out with two original stories written by Novotny; including one with a character from a penny dreadful — the pulp fiction of the age. Annie Alleman, Chicago Tribune, 14 Sep. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'penny dreadful.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1861, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of penny dreadful was in 1861

Dictionary Entries Near penny dreadful

Cite this Entry

“Penny dreadful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jun. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on penny dreadful

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!