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A hooked nail for securing cloth on a tenter.
on tenterhooks
In a state of uneasiness, suspense, or anxiety.


1. (Textiles) one of a series of hooks or bent nails used to hold cloth stretched on a tenter
2. on tenterhooks in a state of tension or suspense


(ˈtɛn tərˌhʊk)

one of the hooks or bent nails that hold cloth stretched on a tenter.
on tenterhooks, in a state of uneasy suspense or painful anxiety.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.tenterhook - one of a series of hooks used to hold cloth on a tenter
claw, hook - a mechanical device that is curved or bent to suspend or hold or pull something
tenter - a framework with hooks used for stretching and drying cloth
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.
Steven Waiver was left bloodied and barely conscious after being attacked by Martin Timothy O'Hare, 41, and another man outside the Tenterhook pub in Towel Hill, Kirkby, on March 6 2004.
His mother Pat Shirley, of Berenska Drive, said: "We are on tenterhooks today.
STAFF at the famous Slater Menswear store in Glasgow were on tenterhooks after a mystery VIP called demanding extra-special treatment.
New series THE KILLING Thur C4 9pm This US crime drama keeps viewers on tenterhooks with multiple cliffhangers and red herrings.
He added: "The looming public-sector spending cuts are keeping UK manufacturers on tenterhooks and slowing recovery.
From here on, author Simon Williams has us increasingly on tenterhooks.
MONDAY night's NFL match between Miami and Pittsburgh left those who stayed up on tenterhooks as Steelers kicker Jeff Reid landed a 24-yard field goal with 17 seconds left to earn a 3-0 victory, writes Phil Agius.
A JACK Russell terrier called Snowy has left a nation on tenterhooks after going missing in an airport 11 days ago.
And with the world seemingly on tenterhooks right now, I think she showed great bravery on her frequent walkabouts.
Brookie fans will be left on tenterhooks by the scenes, filmed on Crosby beach.