Definition of on tenterhooks in English:

on tenterhooks


  • In a state of suspense or agitation because of uncertainty about a future event.

    ‘he was on tenterhooks waiting for the director's decision’
    • ‘The couple were left on tenterhooks about their grandson's performance after having to dash to a friend's golden wedding celebration party just before the match.’
    • ‘More like I'm on tenterhooks waiting impatiently…’
    • ‘Now she is on tenterhooks… waiting for the right reply.’
    • ‘Right, well, for your information, I have been on tenterhooks now for at least a week - officially nine days, but I'm giving myself a couple of days off for good behaviour.’
    • ‘The turns and twists of the dialogue keep us on the tenterhooks of suspense.’
    • ‘We're sitting here on tenterhooks waiting for some advice, and we just can't make any comment until we get that advice.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, kidnappers threatening to kill a Filipino and two Bulgarians seized in Iraq kept their families on tenterhooks.’
    • ‘When the Spice Girls (who generated the catchphrase ‘girl power’) split up, we were on tenterhooks to see who would dish the dirt first.’
    • ‘Hospital bosses in south Essex were today on tenterhooks as the future of controversial foundation trusts went back into the melting pot.’
    • ‘However, for most of this exhilarating semi-final, that had the crowd on tenterhooks, right up to the final whistle, it was Milford who looked likely to go on and face Inniscarra.’
    • ‘Project partners were on tenterhooks over the last few months, uncertain as to whether ospreys would return this spring.’
    • ‘Britain's farmers have been on tenterhooks since a vet found lesions - possible signs of foot and mouth disease - in the mouths of two sheep at the farm on Tuesday.’
    • ‘Still, the bubble had burst - and everyone was on social tenterhooks.’
    • ‘Yesterday a heavily-pregnant Dr Engler was on tenterhooks wondering if her first-born would be the fourth generation of her family to arrive into the world on January 17.’
    • ‘Army chiefs were on tenterhooks today ahead of a major announcement on the future of an historic West Yorkshire regiment.’
    • ‘Margaret was on tenterhooks recovering from the operation and waiting for the results.’
    • ‘So I'm probably going to be on tenterhooks for the next few days.’
    • ‘Everyone is just waiting on tenterhooks for the ward phone to ring.’
    • ‘If injuries made things more difficult, then the Knights' mistakes made things harder still, while some wayward refereeing kept things on tenterhooks, with the game threatening to boil over as a result.’
    • ‘Anyhoo, I feel like the grandparents were just waiting on tenterhooks to find out the sex so they can finally go out and shop for the baby.’
    in suspense, waiting with bated breath
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