Definition of tenterhook in English:



  • A hook used to fasten cloth on a drying frame or tenter.

    • ‘Their first guess was they were tenterhooks, sometimes known as tenter posts - devices used to stretch cloth while it was being dyed.’



/ˈten(t)ərˌho͝ok/ /ˈtɛn(t)ərˌhʊk/


    on tenterhooks
    • In a state of suspense or agitation because of uncertainty about a future event.

      ‘he was on tenterhooks waiting for the director's decision’
      • ‘Hospital bosses in south Essex were today on tenterhooks as the future of controversial foundation trusts went back into the melting pot.’
      • ‘Anyhoo, I feel like the grandparents were just waiting on tenterhooks to find out the sex so they can finally go out and shop for the baby.’
      • ‘Everyone is just waiting on tenterhooks for the ward phone to ring.’
      • ‘Army chiefs were on tenterhooks today ahead of a major announcement on the future of an historic West Yorkshire regiment.’
      • ‘Project partners were on tenterhooks over the last few months, uncertain as to whether ospreys would return this spring.’
      • ‘Margaret was on tenterhooks recovering from the operation and waiting for the results.’
      • ‘If injuries made things more difficult, then the Knights' mistakes made things harder still, while some wayward refereeing kept things on tenterhooks, with the game threatening to boil over as a result.’
      • ‘However, for most of this exhilarating semi-final, that had the crowd on tenterhooks, right up to the final whistle, it was Milford who looked likely to go on and face Inniscarra.’
      • ‘More like I'm on tenterhooks waiting impatiently…’
      • ‘Yesterday a heavily-pregnant Dr Engler was on tenterhooks wondering if her first-born would be the fourth generation of her family to arrive into the world on January 17.’
      • ‘When the band split up, we were on tenterhooks to see who would dish the dirt first.’
      • ‘Right, well, for your information, I have been on tenterhooks now for at least a week - officially nine days, but I'm giving myself a couple of days off for good behaviour.’
      • ‘Britain's farmers have been on tenterhooks since a vet found lesions - possible signs of foot and mouth disease - in the mouths of two sheep at the farm on Tuesday.’
      • ‘We're sitting here on tenterhooks waiting for some advice, and we just can't make any comment until we get that advice.’
      • ‘The couple were left on tenterhooks about their grandson's performance after having to dash to a friend's golden wedding celebration party just before the match.’
      • ‘So I'm probably going to be on tenterhooks for the next few days.’
      • ‘Now she is on tenterhooks… waiting for the right reply.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, kidnappers threatening to kill a Filipino and two Bulgarians seized in Iraq kept their families on tenterhooks.’
      • ‘Still, the bubble had burst - and everyone was on social tenterhooks.’
      • ‘The turns and twists of the dialogue keep us on the tenterhooks of suspense.’