on tenterhooks


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Related to on tenterhooks: Moot point, beck and call

ten·ter·hook

 (tĕn′tər-ho͝ok′)
n.
A hooked nail for securing cloth on a tenter.
Idiom:
on tenterhooks
In a state of uneasiness, suspense, or anxiety.

on tenterhooks

In a state of suspense or anxiety about something; from the idea of cloth being suspended on a tenter (frame for stretching cloth while it is drying).
References in classic literature ?
They wanted to know whether she, whom I expected to see, was dark or fair; whether that fascination which kept me on tenterhooks of expectation was one of my aristocrats or one of my marine beauties: for they knew I had a footing in both these - shall we say circles?
Or was he perhaps, in an intense dislike for the job, beating about the bush and only puzzling Captain Anthony, the providential man, who, if he expected the girl to appear at any moment, must have been on tenterhooks all the time, and beside himself with impatience to see the back of his brother-in-law.
Yet the following week opponents of the bill remained on tenterhooks awaiting the axe to fall any day, but nothing happened.