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on tenterhooks

In a state of anxious, excited, or nervous anticipation. With the game tied, fans on both sides were on tenterhooks for the last quarter. I'm due to find out if I got the job, so I've been on tenterhooks all day!
See also: on, tenterhook

keep someone on tenterhooks

Fig. to keep someone in suspense. Don't keep me on tenterhooks! Tell me your news! We were all kept on tenterhooks waiting to find out what happened.
See also: keep, on, tenterhook

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]
See also: on, tenterhook

on tenterhooks

If you are on tenterhooks, you are very nervous or excited, because you are keen to know what is going to happen. The market was on tenterhooks about the size of the rate cut. `It was a good match wasn't it? Very exciting.' — `Yes, we were on tenterhooks.' Note: In the past, when cloth had been woven, it was stretched on a frame called a tenter and held in place by hooks. The person's emotional state is being compared to the tension in the cloth.
See also: on, tenterhook

on tenterhooks

in a state of suspense or agitation because of uncertainty about a future event.
A tenter is a framework on which fabric can be held taut for drying or other treatment during the manufacturing process; in the past tenterhooks were hooks or bent nails fixed in the tenter to hold the fabric in position. The metaphorical use of the phrase for an agitated state of mind dates from the mid 18th century.
See also: on, tenterhook

(be) on ˈtenterhooks

(American English also be on ˌpins and ˈneedles) (be) very tense, excited or anxious about what might happen: We were kept on tenterhooks for hours while the judges chose the winner.In the past, a tenterhook was used to keep material stretched on a drying frame during manufacture.
See also: on, tenterhook

on tenterhooks

In a state of uneasiness, suspense, or anxiety.
See also: on, tenterhook

on tenterhooks, to be

In a state of painful suspense. The frame on which newly woven cloth was stretched was called a tenter and the hooks used to hold the cloth in place thus were tenterhooks. Tobias Smollett appears to have been the first to use the term metaphorically: “I left him upon the tenterhooks of impatient uncertainty” (The Adventures of Roderick Random, 1748). Clothmaking has changed, and “tenterhook” today survives only in the cliché.
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References in periodicals archive ?
According to Reuters, Swiss banks are on tenterhooks waiting for the US and Germany to decide on the right punishment for practices that had made Switzerland a haven for wealthy customers the world over to evade taxes.
Even more significant, thanks to its spicy trailer and MySpace presence (12,973 friends!), it's picked up a huge cadre of fans who haven't seen the film but hang on tenterhooks in anticipation of its DVD release this month.
So if you're on tenterhooks, metaphorically, you're stretched, strained, suspended.
Yet the following week opponents of the bill remained on tenterhooks awaiting the axe to fall any day, but nothing happened.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad continued to keep the nation on tenterhooks Monday over a plan to reshuffle his cabinet.
We are approaching the day when we once again are kept on nuclear tenterhooks, thanks to Clinton's diplomatic disaster, which he wrapped in celebratory paper.
A VISITOR is on tenterhooks to know why a piece of Marsden's history has been neglected.
The family is on tenterhooks now as they wait to see if Clayton will go to jail for killing Kylie.
You'll be on tenterhooks until tomorrow night's episode when we find out who that is.
BOSSES at Bodnant Garden are on tenterhooks over whether the famous Laburnum Arch will flower early this spring.
The pair are due to appear next Sunday but Mark is on tenterhooks as his wife Kathy is 37 weeks pregnant.
visit ...but tenterhooks The LeapPad has a role too except when the batteries run out after three minutes.
Thiruvananthapuram Kerala was kept on tenterhooks for a second successive day yesterday over Karnataka police's move to arrest People's Democratic Party chairman Abdul Nasser Madani.