metafrasi banner

be on tenterhooks


Staff member
Νομίζω ότι αξίζει να ξέρουμε πώς προέκυψε η έκφραση be on tenterhooks — και ο Κουίνιον με απαλλάσσει από το γράψιμο:

It’s been so long since anyone has seen either a tenter, or the hooks on one, that the word and the idea behind it are now quite mysterious, so much so that it sometimes appears as on tenderhooks, which sounds as though it ought to make more sense. But at one time, the phrase on tenterhooks would have evoked an image that was immediately understandable.

It comes from one of the processes of making woollen cloth. After it had been woven, the cloth still contained oil from the fleece, mixed with dirt. It was cleaned in a fulling mill, but then it had to be dried carefully or it would shrink and crease. So the lengths of wet cloth were stretched on wooden frames, and left out in the open for some time. This allowed them to dry and straightened their weave. These frames were the tenters, and the tenter hooks were the metal hooks used to fix the cloth to the frame. At one time, it would have been common in manufacturing areas to see fields full of these frames (older English maps sometimes marked an area as a tenter-field). So it was not a huge leap of the imagination to think of somebody on tenterhooks as being in an state of anxious suspense, stretched like the cloth on the tenter. The tenters have gone, but the meaning has survived.

Tenter comes from the Latin tendere, to stretch, via a French intermediate. The word has been in the language since the fourteenth century, and on tenters soon after became a phrase meaning painful anxiety. The exact phrase on tenterhooks seems first to have been used by Tobias Smollett in Roderick Random in 1748.

Πριν από τις γνωστές αποδόσεις (κάθομαι σε αναμμένα κάρβουνα, κάθομαι στα καρφιά), σαν αντίστοιχο πρέπει να δούμε το είμαι στην τσίτα. Παραδείγματα από τα λεξικά:
he was on tenterhooks waiting for his directors' decision
I've been on tenterhooks all week waiting for the results.
We were all on tenterhooks waiting for her answer.

Βέβαια, σε τέτοιες περιπτώσεις μάς φτάνει κι ένα περιμέναμε εναγωνίως.

Η εικόνα προέρχεται από τη σελίδα και στη λεζάντα λέει:
Racks for hanging the serge up to dry - the cloth was fixed to the rack with tenterhooks.


Εγώ πάντως όταν έχω αγωνία τρώω τα νύχια μου!
(Κι όταν τελειώσουν, αρχίζω και σκαρφαλώνω στους τοίχους) :p
Ο αγαπημένος Dave Barry:
I don't know about you, but I'm going to be waiting on tenterhooks until the big moment comes when the Quaker Oats Co., in a national press conference, finally reveals what "tenterhooks" are.
Θαύμα, αυτό ήθελα -- ευχαριστώ πολύ!

Παρόλο που κι εγώ συμπαθώ πολύ τον Dave Barry, διευκρινίζω ότι το "Θαύμα..." απευθυνόταν στον Νickel (για να δούμε πότε θα μάθω τα τεχνικά επιμέρους...).


Staff member
Α, μπορείς να πεις: «Θαύμα, αυτόν ήθελα, τον nickel». Δεν θα παρεξηγηθώ. :)