on tenterhooks


1. in a state of suspense or anticipation






Check Icon How to Memorize

be left on tenterhooks by something

Check Icon Analysis

To be on tenterhooks is to wait nervously or in suspense awaiting a decision about the future. Tenterhooks were used in the past to keep fabric suspended or taut so this phrase highlights the tension felt by someone awaiting a decision or judgement to be made by someone else. "She waited on tenterhooks for the jury's decision."

Check Icon Social Examples (Advance)

  1. The big match is on tonight and I have been on tenterhooks all day waiting for it to start!
  2. The defendant was left on tenterhooks while the jury deliberated their verdict.

Check Icon Professional Examples (Advance)

  1. We were all on tenterhooks waiting to hear the result of the meeting. Thankfully the client agreed to the contract.
  2. I was on tenterhooks when my boss called me into the office. I was worried I had done something terrible!

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