Posted by Pdianek on January 21, 2004
In Reply to: Tenterhooks? posted by Lotg on January 20, 2004
: : : Just sent an email message to my favo(u)rite Aussie and used the expression 'I'm sitting on pins and needles'. In the US, that means a state of some concern over the future outcome of some important and concequential set of circumstances. I wonder if this is an expression used elsewhere to discribe a state of apprehension or if there are other phrases that represent shorthand for this feeling. Thanks to all.
: : In my part of the U.S. (W.Va., Ky.) I've heard: "I've been on pins and needles." But without the "sitting." A similar expression: on tenterhooks.
: Yep, we sit on them here too, both pins & needs and tenterhooks - ouch!! BTW, what is a tenterhook?
Tenterhooks were used to help stretch woollen fabric many many years ago, when the newly-woven cloth was washed by hand, or by feet stamping and sloshing in the trough. Wool shrinks, so the wet fabric would be placed on a large wooden frame outside, the "tenter". Along its perimeter the frame was studded with hooks (nails driven through the wood), and the cloth's edges (selvages) were stretched to the hooks, so that as it dried the cloth would retain its shape and size. "On tenterhooks": In a state of uneasiness, suspense, or anxiety.