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a) a suspenseful story or situation
cliffhanger = offener Ausgang eines Fortsetzungsromans oder eines Films, der mitten in der spannendsten Szene endet; eine spannende Situation
cliffhanger: approximately 9,500,000 Google hits
North German CLIFFHANGER holds clues to Merkel's fate
(Reuters news service headline)
With a furious campaign that brought every bit of his media conglomeration to bear, Berlusconi was able to make the election a CLIFFHANGER.
(Spiegel Online international edition)
Did you know?
- a story or a situation which is exciting because it's ending or result is uncertain until it happens
(Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)
A cliffhanger or cliffhanger ending is a plot device in fiction writing which features a main character in a precarious or difficult dilemma. Or it may be someone who is confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of an episode of a series. The aim is to encourage the audience to return to see how the characters resolve the dilemma.
The phrase is believed to come from the end-of-episode situation in adventure silent films of the early 1900s in which the protagonist was often literally left hanging from the edge of a cliff. The Oxford English Dictionary cites the oldest usage from 1937.
One of the earliest uses of this technique was in so-called penny dreadfuls/shilling shockers as they were referred to in England. In the U.S. they were called dime novels. They were a type of fiction publication in the 19th century that usually featured lurid serial stories appearing in parts over a number of weeks, each one costing a (old) penny.
Each story or episode typically ended with a cliffhanger situation that would make the reader want to know what eventually happens. That meant buying the next edition. Television series often use the same approach to keep viewers coming back to the boob tube.
SMUGGLE OWAD into today's conversation
"Last night's football game was a real cliffhanger!"
Thanks to Herbert for suggesting today's word!
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