Definition of tenterhook in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈten(t)ərˌho͝ok/


A hook used to fasten cloth on a drying frame or tenter.
Example sentences
  • Their first guess was they were tenterhooks, sometimes known as tenter posts - devices used to stretch cloth while it was being dyed.


on tenterhooks

In a state of suspense or agitation because of uncertainty about a future event.
Example sentences
  • 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.
in suspense, waiting with bated breath;
anxious, nervous, apprehensive, worried, worried sick, on edge, edgy, antsy, tense, strained, stressed, agitated, restless, worked up, keyed up, jumpy, with one's stomach in knots, with one's heart in one's mouth
informal with butterflies in one's stomach, jittery, twitchy, in a state, uptight, het up

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ten·ter·hook

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.