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


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌklɪfˈhæŋ.ə(ɹ)/
  • (file)


cliffhanger (plural cliffhangers)

  1. (narratology) An ending or stopping point calculated to leave a story unresolved, in order to create suspense.
    • 2 July 2007, Hilary Hylton, “Filming Texas in a Good Light”, in Time[1]:
      Back in the early 80s, the hit series Dallas kept the nation guessing with its season-ending cliffhanger "Who Shot J.R.?"
  2. (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.
    • February 28 2008, Timothy Garton Ash, “Russia has run rings round the west”, in Guardian[2], retrieved 2 Feb. 2009:
      This presidential election is such a cliffhanger. Will it be the rising star Dmitry "Obamovich" Medvedev? Or the veteran Gennady "McCainovich" Zyuganov?


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