"pins & needles"?

Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Thu Oct 10 17:37:19 UTC 2002

I personally interpreted it "tinderhooks" until the first time I saw it
spelled.  Don't ask me why--whatever "tinderhooks" might be, the word is no
more transparent to me than "tenterhooks."

As for "on pins and needles," I've heard it all my life, and only in the
metaphorical sense.  My mother (born in TX, grew up in OK) used it all the
time, so it's been around a lot longer than I have.

Peter Mc.

--On Thursday, October 10, 2002 12:21 PM -0400 David Bergdahl
<bergdahl at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU> wrote:

> After being folk etymologized into "tender hooks" it fits anxiety better
> 'n fear!
> --On Thursday, October 10, 2002 12:10 PM -0400 "Baker, John"
> <JMB at STRADLEY.COM> wrote:
>>         I've heard both meanings of "pins & needles," with the
>> metaphorical usage more common.  There is often a suggestion of
>> anticipation as well as anxiety:  "I was on pins and needles waiting for
>> the test scores."  "On tenterhooks" is far less common in my experience
>> (having lived in Kentucky, Massachusetts, and now Maryland in the sniper
>> area), and it strikes me that I do not know what a tenterhook is.
>> John Baker
> _________________________________________
> "We are all New Yorkers"
>        --Dominique Moisi

                               Peter A. McGraw
                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
                            pmcgraw at linfield.edu

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