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on tenterhooks

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To be kept on tenterhooks is to be held in a state of nervous apprehension: “We've been on tenterhooks since the election results started coming in.”

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notes for on tenterhooks

A tenterhook was a hooked device used in the 1700s to secure newly woven cloth onto a frame.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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Other Idioms and Phrases with on tenterhooks

on tenterhooks

In a state of painful suspense, as in We were on tenterhooks all through the game, hoping against hope that our team would win. This expression alludes to hooks that formerly were used to hold newly woven cloth that was being stretched on a frame. Their name has long survived this method of manufacture. [Mid-1700s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
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