tenterhook

[ten-ter-hoo k]
Idioms
  1. on tenterhooks, in a state of uneasy suspense or painful anxiety: The movie keeps one on tenterhooks until the very last moment.

Origin of tenterhook

First recorded in 1470–80; tenter + hook1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for tenterhooks

tenterhook

noun
  1. one of a series of hooks or bent nails used to hold cloth stretched on a tenter
  2. on tenterhooks in a state of tension or suspense
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 tenterhooks
n.

late 15c., "one of the hooks that holds cloth on a tenter," from tenter + hook (n.). The figurative phrase on tenterhooks "in painful suspense" is from 1748; earlier to be on tenters (1530s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with tenterhooks

tenterhooks

see on tenterhooks.

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