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Nov 21 2013   8:28PM GMT

If you’re anxiously awaiting something, what kind of hooks are you on, tender or tenter?



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Tags:
eggcorns
ESL
meanings of common expressions

Which is correct?

interrobang As the festive season — and the end of the fiscal year — approaches, we are all on _________  waiting to hear whether the 2014 budget has been approved.

a. tenterhooks

b. tenderhooks

Answer: a.

Explanation:

I like Bernie Dworkin’s explanation from the Urban Dictionary:

Firstly, it is tenter hooks, not tender hooks. It means waiting with anxiety. Tenter is a rack for drying cloth and a tenter hook is a nail with an upward curve on which the cloth is hung.
I was on tenter hooks until the test results arrived. Tender hooks do not exist and if they did, they would be ineffective because they are tender.

That’s what I thought, when I heard “tenderhooks” — they just wouldn’t be much use.

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