on tenterhooks

on ten·ter·hook
O o


    • US Pronunciation
    • US IPA
    • [on, awn ten-ter-hoo k]
    • /ɒn, ɔn ˈtɛn tərˌhʊk/
    • US Pronunciation
    • US IPA
    • [on, awn ten-ter-hoo k]
    • /ɒn, ɔn ˈtɛn tərˌhʊk/

Definitions of on tenterhooks words

  • noun on tenterhooks one of the hooks or bent nails that hold cloth stretched on a tenter. 1
  • idioms on tenterhooks on tenterhooks, in a state of uneasy suspense or painful anxiety: The movie keeps one on tenterhooks until the very last moment. 1
  • noun on tenterhooks in a state of tension or suspense 0
  • noun on tenterhooks in suspense; filled with anxiety 0

Information block about the term

Origin of on tenterhooks

First appearance:

before 1470
One of the 25% oldest English words
First recorded in 1470-80; tenter + hook1

Historical Comparancy

Parts of speech for On tenterhooks


on tenterhooks popularity

A pretty common term. Usually people know it’s meaning, but prefer to use a more spread out synonym. About 46% of English native speakers know the meaning and use word.
This word is included in each student's vocabulary. Most likely there is at least one movie with this word in the title.

on tenterhooks usage trend in Literature

This diagram is provided by Google Ngram Viewer

Synonyms for on tenterhooks

adj on tenterhooks

  • agog — If you are agog, you are excited about something, and eager to know more about it.
  • ill at ease — of unsound physical or mental health; unwell; sick: She felt ill, so her teacher sent her to the nurse.

adjective on tenterhooks

  • anticipating — to realize beforehand; foretaste or foresee: to anticipate pleasure.
  • discomfited — Make (someone) feel uneasy or embarrassed.
  • disquieted — lack of calm, peace, or ease; anxiety; uneasiness.
  • expectant — Having or showing an excited feeling that something is about to happen, especially something pleasant and interesting.
  • waiting — an act or instance of waiting or awaiting; delay; halt: a wait at the border.

See also

Matching words

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