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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 ?
Can the site be cleared up and the unique listed tenterhooks be restored to public sight?
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.
Meanwhile, Ian and Sharon, who know the truth of Mark's paternity, are on tenterhooks in case the secret is finally exposed
The pair are due to appear next Sunday but Mark is on tenterhooks as his wife Kathy is 37 weeks pregnant.
London, Aug 13 (ANI): Anne Hathaway has revealed that she was left on tenterhooks because of the audition for the part of Catwoman in the hotly anticipated Batman sequel, 'The Dark Knight Rises'.
As the series draws to a close, it's the day of reckoning at Kirke University, and the faculty members remain on tenterhooks as George delivers her verdict.
In this final episode, it's the day of reckoning at Kirke University, and the faculty members remain on tenterhooks as George delivers her verdict.
After keeping Teesside on tenterhooks for eight days, the ex-Spurs and Barcelona boss finally agreed to take on the task of keeping Boro in the Premiership.