1. Anxiety or apprehension resulting from an uncertain, undecided, or mysterious situation: The suspense as they were announcing the winners was unbearable.
2. 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.
3. Archaic The state or quality of being undecided, uncertain, or indecisive: the suspense of judgment.
[Middle English suspense, delay, uncertainty, from Old French souspense, from souspens, suspended, from Latin suspēnsus, past participle of suspendere, to suspend; see SUSPEND.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.