Bated breath vs baited breath

Bated breath is a phrase that means to hold one’s breath due to suspense, trepidation or fear. Bated breath is a phrase first mentioned in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. The word bated is an abbreviation of the word abated, meaning to lessen in severity or amount. Bated is rarely used on its own as an adjective or verb anymore, but it lingers in the English language in the phrase bated breath.

Baited breath is a common misspelling of bated breath. Bait is a substance used as a lure to capture fish or other prey, therefore, someone with baited breath would probably have a terrible case of halitosis.


The whole country watched with bated breath as Shalit walked on camera into the Rafah crossing escorted by his captors, including Ahmed Jabari, the commander of Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. (Al-Monitor)

Thousands of people around the world have been glued to a Periscope live stream of a patch of water in Drummond Central all afternoon – waiting with bated breath for the next pedestrian to navigate it. (The Huddersfield Daily Examiner)

These are questions that immediately strike one as the cricket fraternity waits with bated breath to know the answers. (The Hindustan Times)

I set myself up in a little corner and waited – with genuine bated breath and not a few butterflies – to see if any of the day’s lunchtime customers would (quite literally) ‘bite’. (The Cambridge News)

For the many Marshallese people abroad, all they can do is watch news updates with bated breath about the islands. (The Business Insider)

Waiting with bated breath for the next three consecutive days of freezing weather, residents are still trying to get their annual ice rink underway this winter.  (The Newbury Port Daily News)


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