Etymology
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suspense (n.)

c. 1400, "abeyance, temporary cessation; state of not being carried out" (of legal matters), from Anglo-French suspens (in en suspens "in abeyance," c. 1300), Old French sospense "delay, deferment (of judgment), act of suspending," from Latin suspensus, past participle of suspendere "to hang up; interrupt" (see suspend). Meaning "state of mental uncertainty with more or less anxiety" (mid-15c.) is from legal meaning, perhaps via notion of "awaiting an expected decision," or from "state of having the mind or thoughts suspended." As a genre of novels, stories, etc., attested from 1951.

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suspenseful (adj.)
1630s, from suspense + -ful. Related: Suspensefully.
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tenterhooks (n.)
plural of tenterhook (late 15c.), "one of the hooks that holds cloth on a tenter," from tenter (q.v.) + hook (n.). The figurative phrase on tenterhooks "in painful suspense" is from 1748; earlier to be on tenters (1530s).
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trance (n.)
late 14c., "state of extreme dread or suspense," also "a half-conscious or insensible condition, state of insensibility to mundane things," from Old French transe "fear of coming evil," originally "coma, passage from life to death" (12c.), from transir "be numb with fear," originally "die, pass on," from Latin transire "cross over, go over, pass over, hasten over, pass away," from trans "across, beyond" (see trans-) + ire "to go" (from PIE root *ei- "to go"). French trance in its modern sense has been reborrowed from English. As a music genre, from c. 1993.
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guess (v.)

c. 1300, gessen "to infer from observation, perceive, find out; form an opinion, judge, decide, discern; evaluate, estimate the number, importance, etc. of," perhaps from Scandinavian (compare Middle Danish gitse, getze "to guess," Old Norse geta "guess, get"), or from or influenced by Middle Dutch gessen, Middle Low German gissen "to guess," all from Proto-Germanic *getan "to get" (see get (v.)).

The prehistoric sense evolution then would be from "get," to "take aim at," to "to estimate." Meaning "to hit upon the right answer" is from 1540s. Spelling with gu- is late 16c., sometimes attributed to Caxton and his early experience as a printer in Bruges. Related: Guessed; guessing. Guessing game attested from 1650s. To keep (someone) guessing "keep him in a state of suspense" is from 1896, American English.

[T]he legitimate, English sense of this word is to conjecture; but with us, and especially in New England, it is constantly used in common conversation instead of to believe, to suppose, to think, to imagine, to fancy. [Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848]
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poise (v.)

late 14c., poisen, "to have (a specified) weight," a sense now obsolete, from Old French poiser, stressed form of peser "to weigh, be heavy; weigh down, be a burden; worry, be a concern," from Vulgar Latin *pesare, from Latin pensare "to weigh carefully, weigh out, counter-balance," frequentative of pendere (past participle pensus) "to hang, cause to hang; weigh; pay" (from PIE root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin").

The meaning "to weigh, ascertain by weighing or balancing is from 1590s, hence the meaning "to hold or place in equilibrium or balance," from 1630s (compare equipoise). The intransitive sense of "be balanced or suspended," figuratively "to hang in suspense" is by 1847; the passive sense of "to be ready" (for or to do something) is by 1932. Related: Poised; poising. In 15c. a poiser was an official who weighed goods. The secondary sense of "to ponder, consider" in Latin pensare yielded pensive; that sense was occasional, but rare in Middle English poise.

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