bated » baited

Chiefly in:   baited breath

Classification: English – nearly mainstream

Spotted in the wild:

  • Glaring suspiciously at Ron, Professor McGonagall pushed the portrait back open and went outside. The whole common room listened with baited breath. (J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Bloomsbury, London, 1999, p. 291)
  • A big gain in the 2006 runs for gubernatorial and congressional seats will bolster the confidence of Democrats, but I’m sure they remember the obvious in America: Democratic Congress, Republican President… and vice versa. So, with the baited breath of Wiley Coyotes, they pore over blueprints of probability as they seek troubleshooting, eight-ball candidates – the whole exciting miasma of an ultimate victory for the UN’s New World Order. (Enter Stage Right, January 31, 2005)
  • NASA boffins are this week watching satellite images with baited breath to see what will happen when an iceberg smashes into a glacier in Antartica. (The Sun, February 9, 2005)
  • While everyone waits with baited breath, to see if Terrell Owens’ Willis Reed impression is enough to inspire his Philadelphia Eagles teammates to victory over the heavily-favored New England Patriots in today’s Super Bowl, other games are being played in the NFL. (WEBCommentary, February 6, 2005)
  • Conference chief executive John Moules told BBC Sport: “It could affect us and we’re waiting with baited breath.” (BBC Sport, 2 February, 2005)

Analyzed or reported by:

| link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2005/02/10 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Doug Harris , 2006/05/16 at 3:55 am

    One or another member of a long-ago forum on Prodigy, when it was
    _the_ online service, often noted they would await a response (to their
    comment) “with baity breath”. Clearly fishin’ for a blast oh so profoundo
    from another group member!

  2. 2

    Commentary by Kevin , 2006/06/21 at 9:37 pm

    Man, back in the days when people wrote “letters” (a kind of blog comment, in paper form) a gal friend sternly corrected me for writing “baited breath” (what, like I’m a fish?).

    Once I learned that “bated” is related to “abate”, well it all made sense. Now I’m the one who humiliates OTHER people.

  3. 3

    Commentary by Tom Ross , 2006/08/30 at 7:29 pm

    My sister and I exchanged a lot of notes with each other at one time. Whenever one of us missed the other enough to convey the sentiment that person often skipped forward to “minnows.” As in, “l’ll be waiting for you with minnows.” I guess it sounded a little more apetizing than nightcrawlers.

  4. 4

    Commentary by John , 2006/08/30 at 8:51 pm

    I read a humourous poem once, involving a cat who eats cheese, then sits at the mouse hole with “baited breath” to catch his prey. I suppose most people wouldn’t notice the joke anymore.

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