On Tenterhooks

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State of suspense, worried about something, agitated because of uncertainty


  • The idiom originated in the 18th century when a tenter was used to stretch the woven cloth. The hook used to hold the woven cloth to the tenter was named “tenterhook.” In the 18th century the term “on tenters” was used as a reference for a person who is worryingly sick due to a situation about to happen at a later stage. With the passage of time, the expression was modified to “tenterhooks” as the hooks are sharper to show the intensity of feeling.

The fans were on tenterhooks throughout the game.

Submitted on February 25, 2019

Additional definitions for 'On Tenterhooks':

on tenterhooksIn a state of suspense or apprehension.
on tenterhookstense in anticipation of something. The phrase originated in the wool industry where fleeces were stretched on a frame between hooks to dry after washing the fleeces.
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"On Tenterhooks." Phrases.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 11 Jul 2020. <https://www.phrases.com/phrase/on-tenterhooks_44893>.

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