Definition of penny dreadful in English:

Share this entry

penny dreadful


A cheap, sensational comic or storybook: [as modifier]: penny dreadful comics
More example sentences
  • To a Victorian audience it would have been even more moving, for on close inspection she is no Greek maiden, but a late-Victorian English rose whose predicament is straight from the pages of a penny dreadful or pocket novella.
  • In Anthony Trollope's short story The Spotted Dog, one of the characters visits the editor of a Victorian penny dreadful in his office.
  • The image was burned, like something out of a Victorian penny dreadful, into my mind.


Late 19th century: so named because the original cost was one penny.

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.