Posted by Gareth Noakes on November 23, 2001
My dear old Dad's explanation
of how 'On Tenterhooks' came to describe a state of anxiety or apprehension goes
along the lines of 'In days of old, one of the less savory methods of extracting
information from a person involved standing a person on tip-toe with a metal hook
(point uppermost) positioned under the fleshy part just behind the chin'. Thus
when the feet/legs got tired, pain resulted. The anxiety and apprehension arises
from wondering how long you could remain on tip-toes.
Can anyone confirm this or provide another explanation?