tenterhooks » tenderhooks
Spotted in the wild:
Analyzed or reported by:
- Robert Hartwell Fiske (The Dictionary of Disagreeable English)
- James Cochrane (Between You and I)
The “tenter” of “tenterhooks” — referring to a stretching device — is utterly unfamiliar to most English speakers, so it’s not surprising that some of them have replaced it by the familiar “tender”, suggesting the pain that comes from having hooks in tender places.