keep on tenterhooks

keep (one) on tenterhooks

To cause one to remain in a continual state of anxious, excited, or nervous anticipation. "Tenterhooks," often mistakenly written or pronounced as "tenderhooks," were the hooks on a frame called a "tenter." They were used to fasten stretched cloth to allow it to dry. With the score tied, fans on both sides were kept on tenterhooks for the entire last quarter of the game. They said they would let me know about my application soon. I wish they wouldn't keep me on tenterhooks like that!
See also: keep, on, tenterhook
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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