09 October 2017

Is it baited or bated breath?

It is not uncommon to hear some use the term "with bated breath." But I have seen the expression written, incorrectly, as "with baited breath."

"Bated" is a form of "abate," which means “to diminish, lessen or reduce.”

If you are "waiting with bated breath for the release of the final episodes of Game of Thrones based on George R.R. Martin's books" then you are so eager, anxious, excited, or frightened that you're almost holding your breath.

Though you may hear abated used more frequently - "The storm finally abated overnight" - I can't think of any time I have heard "bated" used as an adjective other than connected to "breath."

The only way I can imagine "baited breath" would be if you decided you munch on some night crawlers, grubs or insects. That would certainly give you baited breath - and probably abate you chances of being kissed.

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