How to Say “Cliffhanger” in French: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to translating the term “cliffhanger” into French, you may find yourself searching for the perfect expression to capture the suspenseful essence of this storytelling technique. In this guide, we will explore both formal and informal ways to say “cliffhanger” in French, providing useful tips, examples, and even regional variations if necessary. Let’s dive into the world of French vocabulary and find the ideal equivalent for “cliffhanger”!

The Formal Way: “Suspense” or “Moment de Suspens”

In formal contexts, the most commonly used term for “cliffhanger” is “suspense.” This word perfectly conveys the sense of anticipation and tension that arises from a compelling story line. Another formal alternative is “moment de suspens,” which can be translated as “moment of suspense.”


French: Le dernier épisode de la série se termine sur un suspense insoutenable.
English Translation: The last episode of the series ends on an unbearable cliffhanger.

The Informal Ways: “Fin en Sursis” or “Fin en Suspens”

When speaking in a more casual or informal setting, French speakers often use the expressions “fin en sursis” and “fin en suspens” to refer to a cliffhanger ending. These phrases are less formal than the previous ones but are still widely understood in everyday conversations.


French: Attends, ne me dis pas comment ça se termine ! C’est une fin en sursis !
English Translation: Wait, don’t tell me how it ends! It’s a cliffhanger!

Regional Variations: “Cliff” or “Suspense en Queue de Poisson”

While “cliffhanger” is commonly used throughout the French-speaking world, you may encounter some regional variations. In Quebec, for instance, “cliff” is often used instead. Additionally, in certain contexts, you might come across the expression “suspense en queue de poisson” to describe a story that ends with a cliffhanger. However, these regional variations are not as prevalent as the previous options.


French (Quebec): J’ai hâte de voir la suite de cette série, j’ai entendu dire que ça finit avec un cliff.
English Translation: I can’t wait to see the next episode of this series, I heard it ends with a cliffhanger.

Additional Tips for Using “Cliffhanger” in French

To enhance your understanding and usage of the term “cliffhanger” in French, here are a few extra tips:

1. Context Matters

When using any of the French equivalents for “cliffhanger,” make sure the context clearly indicates that you are referring to a suspenseful ending rather than a literal cliff. Providing proper context ensures that your message is accurately understood.

2. Using Adjectives

To describe a cliffhanger as exciting, thrilling, or unbearable, you can use adjectives such as “captivant” (captivating), “palpitant” (thrilling), or “insoutenable” (unbearable). These adjectives help convey the intensity of the suspenseful moment.

3. Incorporating Idioms

To add flair to your conversations, you can also incorporate French idioms related to suspense or anticipation. For example, “être en haleine” (to be on edge) or “suspense à couper au couteau” (suspense that could be cut with a knife) can be used to describe a particularly gripping cliffhanger.


In conclusion, the term “cliffhanger” can be translated in various ways depending on the formality and regional context. In formal settings, “suspense” or “moment de suspens” are the preferred choices, while in informal conversations, “fin en sursis” or “fin en suspens” are commonly used. Regional variations such as “cliff” in Quebec or “suspense en queue de poisson” are less common but may still arise. By using these translations alongside relevant adjectives and idioms, you can accurately convey the suspenseful essence of a cliffhanger moment in French. Bonne chance!

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