on tenterhooks

Welsh_Sion

Senior Member
Welsh - Northern
It was only last night that I learnt the origin of this expression in English comes from the smoking of herring and making kippers. The figurative meaning of, 'in a state of suspense or agitation because of uncertainty about a future event' comes later.

In Cymraeg/Welsh, our equivalent is 'ar bigau'r drain' that is 'on the prickles of the thorns'.

How about the rest of the world?
 
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  • jazyk

    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    In Portuguese:
    estar com os nervos à flor da pele, "to have one's nerves on the surface of the skin".
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    In Catalan:

    No idiom comes to my mind, probably because we already have a verb, frisar, which already means to be inthat state, and also the noun neguit, so that estar neguitós (female neguitosa) or tenir/passar neguit would mean to be in that state.

    Frisar (also frissar in the past or in dialects) comes from Latin frictiare 'to scratch'.
    Neguit might be a back formation from the old word neguitat 'uneasiness', from Latin iniquitate 'instability'.

    There is also a nice but rather unknown form, the adverb enjòlit, an old word (maybe from Provençal or Corsican) meaning 'adrift', which may refer to that state when talking about one's mood. Today that'd mostly be replaced by en suspens.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    It was only last night that I learnt the origin of this expression in English comes from the smoking of herring and making kippers. The figurative meaning of, 'in a state of suspense or agitation because of uncertainty about a future event' comes later.

    In Cymraeg/Welsh, our equivalent is 'ar bigau'r drain' that is 'on the prickles of the thorns'.

    How about the rest of the world?
    You'll love it, but in our dialect we say that we sit "op dessels", or "op distels" in Standard Dutch (but the expression is not standard): I sit on thistles! Don't know whether they were/ are Welsh, but...
     

    DearPrudence

    Dépêche Mod (AL mod)
    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    As in Italian and Greek, we have "être sur des charbons ardents" (to be on burning coals) in French.
     
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