[C18-L] Invention of the "cliff-hanger"?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Jan 21 02:31:26 UTC 2014

At 1/20/2014 09:12 PM, Lynne Connolly wrote:
>The phrase "cliff hanger" dates from the old silent movies and the serial
>"Perils of Pauline," when she ended many an episode literally hanging over a
>What was it called before that?
>Lynne Connolly

The Perils of Pauline (silent) dates from 1914; a second incarnation
from 1933.  The OED dates "cliff-hanger" from 1937, although in a
secondary source:  "1937   Amer. Speech 12 318/1   Cliff-hangers,
type of serial melodrama."  I can certainly imagine Pauline being the source.

I don't know what it may have been called before that, though if
someone has a suggestion we can search.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list