be on pins and needles

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be on pins and needles

To be anxious and tense. The phrase likely derived from the tingling sensation (called "pins and needles") that occurs when blood flow returns to a numb limb. A: "Why is Carrie pacing?" B: "She's waiting for the doctor to call with her test results, so she's been on pins and needles all day."
See also: and, needle, on, pin

on pins and needles, to be

To be extremely nervous or uneasy; in suspense. The image is as clear as that of a cat on a hot tin roof. Robert Louis Stevenson appears to have been the first to use it metaphorically, in St. Ives (1897): “He was plainly on pins and needles.” It was a cliché by the mid-twentieth century. See also on tenterhooks.
See also: and, on, pin