ten·​ter·​hook | \ ˈten-tər-ˌhu̇k How to pronounce tenterhook (audio) \

Definition of tenterhook

: a sharp hooked nail used especially for fastening cloth on a tenter
on tenterhooks
: in a state of uneasiness, strain, or suspense the waiting kept us on tenterhooks

Examples of tenterhook in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This news ought to have the top three players on tenterhooks. Tim Culpan | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Why These Chipmakers Need Their Own OPEC," 25 July 2019 And the New Bedford transplants, including her grandson and his Florida Atlantic University roommates, are on tenterhooks as the forecast keeps shifting. Lucas Phillips, BostonGlobe.com, "Florida transplants from New Bedford await Dorian," 1 Sep. 2019 With global powers on tenterhooks, the risk of a miscalculation -- and a knee-jerk deployment of a nuclear weapon -- would increase. Eliza Mackintosh, CNN, "Clock's ticking on one of world's most important nuclear treaties. A dangerous arms race may be next," 20 July 2019 His remarks on Sunday came after President Trump’s decision drew a mixed response in a region on tenterhooks over a potential war. Summer Said, WSJ, "Bolton Defends Trump’s Decision to Not Attack Iran," 23 June 2019 Still on tenterhooks after the gripping final scene of Outlander's season premiere? Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Outlander Sneak Peek: Jamie's Aunt Jocasta Welcomes the Frasers to River Run," 7 Nov. 2018 Specifically, Remington — indeed, the entire firearms industry — is on tenterhooks waiting for a potential landmark ruling from the Connecticut Supreme Court. Michael Hiltzik, latimes.com, "Is the Sandy Hook massacre the real impetus behind the Remington Arms bankruptcy?," 27 Mar. 2018 The industry was on tenterhooks awaiting the catch information, which typically is announced by the International Pacific Halibut Commission in late January. Laine Welch, Anchorage Daily News, "Decline in Pacific halibut fishery not as severe as feared," 26 Mar. 2018 While that's left traders on tenterhooks, some are arguing conditions are ripe for a market rebound. Andreea Papuc, Bloomberg.com, "Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day," 25 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tenterhook.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of tenterhook

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tenterhook

tenter entry 1 + hook entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tenterhook

Time Traveler for tenterhook

Time Traveler

The first known use of tenterhook was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for tenterhook

Last Updated

16 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Tenterhook.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenterhook. Accessed 15 December 2019.

More from Merriam-Webster on tenterhook

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tenterhook

Comments on tenterhook

What made you want to look up tenterhook? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


delight or enjoyment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!