The word ‘tenterhooks’ arises from the steel hooks that manufacturers used to extend wool on a tenter although it dried.

Just what could this week’s subject be? Will you be on tenterhooks? What the deuce are tenterhooks?

First, why don’t we get something right: you’re on TENTERhooks, maybe not TENDERhooks.

Become on tenterhooks is usually to be filled up with painful or anxious expectation or suspense, such as for example when you’re waiting for the consequence of a significant medical test.

Where We Have The Word ‘Tenterhooks’

To determine just what a tenterhook is, we need to realize that way back when manufacturers kept freshly milled woolen fabric from shrinking whilst it dried by extending it on a wooden framework called a tenter. It comes down through the Latin term tentus, which means that “to stretch.”

The 1845 Encyclopaedia Metropolitana or Universal Dictionary of real information, amount 1, describes a tenter as “a wide range of straight articles fixed towards the ground, with a horizontal that is continuous rail in the top as long as the bit of fabric; additionally there are other horizontal rails that are fitted between your upright articles … both the top of and reduced rails are driven packed with tenterhooks; on these the listings associated with cloth are fastened, after which it the low or movable train is pressed downwards to your complete breadth associated with fabric, after which guaranteed with its destination because of the pins. The pieces are left to dry. in this state”

Therefore a tenterhook is a steel hook that holds the fabric set up in the tenter, while the structures had been put down in areas therefore the wool could dry.

The Saturday Magazine, Volume 12 from 1838 defines the procedure such as this:

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