sus·​pense | \sə-ˈspen(t)s \

Definition of suspense 

1 : the state of being suspended : suspension

2a : mental uncertainty : anxiety

b : pleasant excitement as to a decision or outcome a novel of suspense

3 : the state or character of being undecided or doubtful : indecisiveness

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Other Words from suspense

suspenseful \sə-​ˈspen(t)s-​fəl \ adjective
suspensefully \sə-​ˈspen(t)s-​fə-​lē \ adverb
suspensefulness \sə-​ˈspen(t)s-​fəl-​nəs \ noun
suspenseless \sə-​ˈspen(t)s-​ləs \ adjective

Examples of suspense in a Sentence

I can't bear the suspense. The suspense builds as the story progresses. Alfred Hitchcock was a master of suspense. The movie is a suspense thriller.
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Recent Examples on the Web

So for me, the film’s aesthetic became a point of suspense, an unresolved question. Aja Romano, Vox, "How Suspiria turns the color red into a plot point," 9 Nov. 2018 The last three episodes boast genuine suspense, lots of butt-kicking, and one very clever twist. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Iron Fist’s second Netflix season mostly lives up to its promising trailer," 10 Sep. 2018 The West Allis Common Council gave its blessings to the plan for dog-friendly dining Tuesday, May 15, but the debate wasn't without suspense. Jane Ford-stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Dogs and owners both welcome at revamped outdoor dining area at Natty Oaks restaurant in West Allis," 16 May 2018 The children steal the show in Belinda Bauer’s unnerving suspense novel, SNAP (Atlantic Monthly, $26). Marilyn Stasio, New York Times, "Hate Thy Neighbor. Or Maybe Just Kill Him.," 6 July 2018 Certainly Trump aides contributed to one element of the suspense leading up to the Gorsuch announcement, as the New York Times reported: For Judge Thomas M. Hardiman, the road to the Supreme Court ended in Altoona. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Don’t Believe Any SCOTUS Rumors: Trump Wants Suspense Before Another Reality-Show Reveal," 6 July 2018 And Ronaldo ended the suspense early, ducking to knock home a header in the fourth minute. Kevin Baxter,, "Brilliant Cristiano Ronaldo scores game's lone goal in Portugal's win over Morocco," 20 June 2018 Garrett Mattingly grounded his work about the defeat of the Spanish Armada in archival research, but his vivid account reads like a suspense novel. WSJ, "Five Best: Craig L. Symonds," 15 June 2018 The setting adds factors of claustrophobia and isolation to the suspense of the scenario. Paul Daugherty,, "Paul Daugherty: What's on your bucket list, Cincinnati sports fans?," 14 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'suspense.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of suspense

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for suspense

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from suspendre

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Statistics for suspense

Last Updated

16 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for suspense

The first known use of suspense was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for suspense



English Language Learners Definition of suspense

: a feeling or state of nervousness or excitement caused by wondering what will happen


sus·​pense | \sə-ˈspens \

Kids Definition of suspense

: uncertainty, worry, or excitement in wondering about the result of something Annemarie always tried … to build up the suspense and tantalize her sister.— Lois Lowry, Number the Stars

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Comments on suspense

What made you want to look up suspense? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a nest or breeding place

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