One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A hook used to fasten cloth on a drying frame or tenter.
- ‘Their first guess was they were tenterhooks, sometimes known as tenter posts - devices used to stretch cloth while it was being dyed.’
historical In a state of suspense or agitation because of uncertainty about a future event.
in suspense, waiting with bated breathView synonyms
- ‘Project partners were on tenterhooks over the last few months, uncertain as to whether ospreys would return this spring.’
- ‘Now she is on tenterhooks… waiting for the right reply.’
- ‘We're sitting here on tenterhooks waiting for some advice, and we just can't make any comment until we get that advice.’
- ‘More like I'm on tenterhooks waiting impatiently…’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Everyone is just waiting on tenterhooks for the ward phone to ring.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Meanwhile, kidnappers threatening to kill a Filipino and two Bulgarians seized in Iraq kept their families on tenterhooks.’
- ‘So I'm probably going to be on tenterhooks for the next few days.’
- ‘The turns and twists of the dialogue keep us on the tenterhooks of suspense.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Army chiefs were on tenterhooks today ahead of a major announcement on the future of an historic West Yorkshire regiment.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Still, the bubble had burst - and everyone was on social tenterhooks.’
- ‘Margaret was on tenterhooks recovering from the operation and waiting for the results.’
- ‘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.’
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