Expressions used in Everyday Spoken English in Social and Professional contexts

on tenterhooks

on tenterhooks
1) in a state of suspense or anticipation
  • How to MemorizePopularity MediumProfessional MediumSocial
    • be left on tenterhooks by something
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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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