Are you on tenderhooks?

No, but you might be on tenterhooks.

If you are on tenterhooks, you are in a state of suspense or agitation because of uncertainty about an event in the future.

Tenterhooks were hooks that held cloth firmly in place on tenters. Tenters were wooden frames used to stretch cloth after it had been milled. They were used so that cloth dried evenly and didn’t shrink.

The first usage of tenterhooks in the sense of suspense can be found in Tobias Smollett’s novel The Adventures of Roderick Random, published in 1748: “I made no reply, but left him upon the tenter-hooks of impatient uncertainty.”


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