This is the full read-only archive of the "Ask the Wordwizard" section of the original Wordwizard site. The responses to the questions originate from Jonathon Green, the compiler of the Cassell Dictionary of Slang and numerous other dictionaries.
A tenterhook is one of the hooks or bent nails set in a close row along the upper and lower bar of a tenter, by which the edges of the cloth are firmly held; a hooked or right-angled nail or spike; dial. a metal hook upon which anything is hung. Thus it can be used to describe anything on which something is stretched; thus 'on tenterhooks' is a figurative use, in which one's emotions are stretched.ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Jonathon Green