see on tenterhooks.
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Words nearby tenterhooks
What does tenterhooks mean?
Tenterhooks are hooks used to attach cloth to a tenter—a frame on which cloth is stretched during the manufacturing process so that it can keep its shape while drying.
The singular form of the word is tenterhook.
Tenterhooks are no longer widely used in cloth manufacturing, and the word tenterhooks is now almost exclusively used in the metaphorical phrase on tenterhooks, meaning in a state of painfully anxious suspense or tension. Being on tenterhooks typically involves being extremely nervous while awaiting the outcome of a tense situation, such as a close election, an exciting sports game, or a horror movie.
Example: I’ve been on tenterhooks all morning waiting for the doctor’s office to call back with my test results.
Where does the word tenterhooks come from?
The first records of the word tenterhooks come from the late 1400s. Tenter comes from the Middle English tente, which means “to stretch” and derives from the Latin tēnsus, meaning “tense.” The word tenter was formerly used as a synonym for tenterhook, and the expression on tenters was used before on tenterhooks to mean the same thing.
Most of the people who use the phrase on tenterhooks have probably never seen actual tenterhooks, and most may not even know what they are. But it’s a good metaphor—when someone is described as being on tenterhooks, they feel tense and stretched thin, just like the fabric on a tenter. The phrase on tenterhooks is often applied to negative situations, but it can be used to describe someone who’s nervously excited.
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What are some other forms related to tenterhooks?
- tenterhook (singular form)
What are some synonyms for tenterhooks?
- tenter (obsolete)
What are some words that share a root or word element with tenterhooks?
What are some words that often get used in discussing tenterhooks?
How is tenterhooks used in real life?
Tenterhooks is almost exclusively used in the phrase on tenterhooks.
I'm on tenterhooks I'm really anxious about my Son's results. Sending you and your daughter positive vibes.
— Temi (@temfash) August 17, 2020
on tenterhooks today waiting for the arrivals of new carly rae in my inbox and counter/weight shirt in my mailbox
— Carey Pietsch (@careydraws) May 17, 2019
just learned it’s “tenterhooks” not “tenderhooks” 😕
— speedy ortiz ÷ haunted painting 9.25.2020 (@sad13) July 10, 2019
Try using tenterhooks!
Which of the following terms is a synonym of the phrase on tenterhooks?
A. on edge
D. all of the above
Example sentences from the Web for tenterhooks
Not to say Riva, the veteran screen star, is on tenterhooks.Oscar’s 85-Year-Old Darling: A Talk With Emmanuelle Riva of ‘Amour’|Tracy McNicoll|February 15, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Every attorney at his firm is hanging on tenterhooks waiting for the bonus announcements.The D.C. Sex Blogger on How She Went From Slut to Housewife|Jessica Cutler|December 10, 2008|DAILY BEAST
As for Halstead, though he remained outwardly cool and collected, these were days when he secretly lived on tenterhooks.The Motor Boat Club in Florida|H. Irving Hancock
I waited on tenterhooks; then I could bear the suspense no longer.'Chatterbox, 1906|Various
He took a pinch of snuff, he blew his nose with stately deliberation—all in order to keep the petitioner waiting on tenterhooks.Petticoat Rule|Emmuska Orczy, Baroness Orczy
She felt restless during that week—on tenterhooks to know if she should see the Duke; hot and cold as she went into a room.The Career of Katherine Bush|Elinor Glyn
It is the profound intuition of the truth that keeps me on tenterhooks.The Crystal Stopper|Maurice LeBlanc