a framework on which cloth in the process of manufacture is stretched so it may set or dry evenly.
Obsolete. a tenterhook.

verb (used with object)

to stretch (cloth) on a tenter or tenters.

verb (used without object)

to be capable of being tentered.

Origin of tenter

1300–50; Middle English tente to stretch (< Latin tentus, variant of tēnsus tense1) + -er1; replacing Middle English teyntur, of unclear derivation
Related formsun·ten·tered, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tenter

Historical Examples of tenter

  • I'm on tenter hooks to know whether I shall have a Reprimand, or a bad conduct mark in my report.

    A Young Girl's Diary

    An Anonymous Young Girl

  • Tenter de s'lever le long de ses parois, qui ne prsentaient aucune saillie, tait impraticable.

  • At one kind two girls sit, each watching an edge of the cloth and keeping it straight on the tenter hooks, so it will feed evenly.

    Making Both Ends Meet

    Sue Ainslie Clark and Edith Wyatt

  • Sometimes hooks were used, from which we get the phrase 'to be on tenter hooks'—to be on a stretch with anxiety.

  • Whenever the lantern was filled, the tenter carried the roving to a simple machine, where it was wound upon bobbins by hand.

British Dictionary definitions for tenter



a frame on which cloth is stretched during the manufacturing process in order that it may retain its shape while drying
a person who stretches cloth on a tenter


(tr) to stretch (cloth) on a tenter

Word Origin for tenter

C14: from Medieval Latin tentōrium, from Latin tentus stretched, from tendere to stretch
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for tenter

c.1300, "wooden framework for stretching cloth," via Old French (the evolution of the ending is obscure), probably ultimately from Latin tentorium "tent made of stretched skins," from tentus "stretched," variant past participle of tendere "to stretch" (see tenet).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper