Just what could this weekâ€™s subject be? Have you been on tenterhooks? What on earth are tenterhooks?
First, why don’t we get something right: you’re on TENTERhooks, perhaps not TENDERhooks.
Where We Obtain The Word ‘Tenterhooks’
To determine just what a tenterhook is, we need to realize that sometime ago manufacturers kept freshly milled woolen fabric from shrinking whilst it dried by extending it on a wood framework called a tenter. It comes down through the Latin term tentus, which means that â€œto stretch.â€
The phrase ‘tenterhooks’ originates from the steel hooks that manufacturers used to extend wool on a tenter although it dried.
The 1845 Encyclopaedia Metropolitana or Universal Dictionary of real information, Volume 1, defines a tenter as â€œa range straight articles fixed to your ground, with a horizontal that is continuous train at the top as long as the little bit of fabric; there are additionally other horizontal rails that are fitted between your upright articles â€¦ both top of the and reduced rails are driven high in tenterhooks; on these the listings regarding the fabric are fastened, after which it the low or movable rail is pushed downwards into the complete breadth associated with the fabric, after which guaranteed in its destination because of the pins. In this state, the pieces are kept to dry.â€
So a tenterhook is a steel hook that holds the fabric in position in the tenter, while the structures had been lay out in areas so that the wool could dry.
The Magazine, Volume 12 from 1838 describes the process like this saturday:
â€œWhen the fabric first arises from the weaver, it really is in an exceedingly rough unsightly state, possesses an amount of oil â€¦ The next procedure is â€˜scouring,â€™ which will be performed into the fulling-mill, the fabric being wet in an alkaline ley and beaten by equipment; it really is then well rinced with clear water and hung regarding the tenter-frames to dry.â€
Maps Applied to Show Tenter-Fields
In accordance with Michael Quinion associated with the Around The Globe Words site, tenters were therefore many and typical that old maps of England often called away areas that are certain tenter-fields.
In this literal feeling, the reference that is earliest within the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1480, therefore the earliest complete expression I am able to read without butchering it really is from 1518: Her fingernails because razor-sharp as tenterhooks.
How ‘Tenterhooks’ Got Its Current Meaning
The meaning that is figurative to stem through the indisputable fact that the drying fabric will be strained and extended by the tenterhooks, and also by analogy, somebody who is strained or extended to wits’ end is on tenterhooks such as the fabric. The reference that is first this figurative feeling is much more than a couple of hundred years later on in 1748: we left him upon the tenterhooks of impatient doubt.
The OED states it is currently an unusual or saying that is obscure but individuals additionally utilized to state they had been â€œon tentersâ€ or â€œon the tenterâ€ to suggest exactly the same thing as â€œon tenterhooks.â€
Therefore keep in mind, you arenâ€™t on tenderhooks. Youâ€™re on tenterhooks.
Concerning the writer
Mignon Fogarty may be the founder of fast and Dirty guidelines additionally the writer of seven publications on language, like the nyc occasions bestseller “Grammar woman’s fast and Dirty strategies for Better Writing.” This woman is an inductee when you look at the Podcasting Hall of Fame, while the show is a winner that is five-time of Education Podcast into the Podcast Awards. She’s appeared as a guest specialist in the Oprah Winfrey Show additionally the Show today. Her LinkedIn that is popular Learning assist people write easier to communicate better.