from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A hooked nail for securing cloth on a tenter.
- idiom on tenterhooks In a state of uneasiness, suspense, or anxiety.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. one of a series of hooks used to stretch cloth on a tenter
Sorry, no etymologies found.
A tenterhook was a hooked device used in the 1700s to secure newly woven cloth onto a frame.
Which makes one wonder: what exactly is a tenterhook?
Something sharp from behind; a tenterhook in his shoulders.
Those who like such drugs mixed up with a _quantum sufficit_ of horror, and all the tenterhook interest, hair-breadth escapes, and incident so forced as to stagger belief, which make up the hotchpotch romances whether narrative or dramatic of the present day, will like this.
[The last name is given] because the principal island is that of Luzón, whose form is that of a tenterhook, one hundred and thirty leguas along its longest side and seventy along the shortest.
The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898 — Volume 27 of 55 1636-37 Explorations by Early Navigators, Descriptions of the Islands and Their Peoples, Their History and Records of the Catholic Missions, as Related in Contemporaneous Books and Manuscripts, Showing the Political, Economic, Commercial and Religious Conditions of Those Islands from Their Earliest Relations with European Nations to the Close of the Nineteenth Century
Emerging market bonds are also on a turmoil tenterhook; when the apple cart gets upset, I want to look at ways of owning the next cart, rather than trying to collect the rotten apples.
Either the loser keeps the winner on tenterhook or the winner keeps the looser at bay!
Last week we'd gone to check on the buds and decided to leave them for another week, which put us on a special kind tenterhook, since there's a good chance in the meanwhile that some other sansai gatherer who knows where the thorny trees are will come along with every right to take the buds - they are wild and free, after all - plus, there are mountain hikers passing near all the time who may spot and are not above even breaking the branches to get at the delicious tender buds to have with their camp dinner.
They won't press me, sartin sure, 'cos o' my tenterhook here, and I'll keep my weather eye open, trust me for that. "