|About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us|
You are not logged in. [Log In] Wordsmith.org » Forums » General Topics » Miscellany » tenterhooks Register User Forum List Calendar Active Topics Search FAQ
#217365 - 06/27/14 09:51 PM tenterhooks
Loc: Victoria, Australia
In a state of uncomfortable suspense.
Tenterhooks aren't directly connected with tents, nor are they the hooks used by butchers, as the common misspelling 'tenderhooks' might suggest. A tenter is a wooden frame, often in the form of a line of fencing, used to hang woollen or linen cloth to prevent it from shrinking as it dries. The tenterhooks are, not surprisingly, the hooks on the tenter used to hold the cloth in place.
Tenters are no longer everyday objects but a hundred years ago, in wool weaving areas like the North of England, they were a common sight on the land around the many woollen mills, called 'tenter-fields'. It is easy to see how the figurative expression 'on tenterhooks', with its meaning of painful tension, derived from the 'tenting' or stretching of fabric. The expression was originally 'on the tenters'. The English West Country playright John Ford was the first to record that expression in the play Broken Heart, 1633:
Passion, O, be contained. My very heart strings Are on the Tenters.
Towards the end of the century the more accurate 'on the tenterhooks' began to replace the earlier phrase. This first example that I have found of it in print is in the 1690 edition of a periodical that was published annually between 1688 and 1693, The General History of Europe:
The mischief is, they will not meet again these two years, so that all business must hang upon the tenterhooks till then.
Reference: The Phrase Finder
Edited by Bazr (06/27/14 09:55 PM)_________________________
live in the moment
Forum Stats 8952 Members
Max Online: 3341 @ 12/09/11 02:15 PM
Newest Members alphaomega, MarlSF, jfw, hiscientist, MaineMrC
8952 Registered Users
Who's Online 0 registered (), 46 Guests and 6 Spiders online. Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Top Posters (30 Days)
wofahulicodoc 73 LukeJavan8 56 may2point0 36 jheem 1
wwh 13858 Faldage 13803 Jackie 11613 tsuwm 10538 LukeJavan8 8478 Buffalo Shrdlu 7210 wofahulicodoc 6852 AnnaStrophic 6511 Wordwind 6296 of troy 5400
Board Rules · Mark all read Contact Us · Wordsmith.org · Top
Disclaimer: Wordsmith.org is not responsible for views expressed on this site. Use of this forum is at your own risk and liability - you agree to hold Wordsmith.org and its associates harmless as a condition of using it.
Home | Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Subscribe | FAQ | Archives | Search | Feedback
Wordsmith Talk | Wordsmith Chat
© 1994-2016 Wordsmith