Writing for Business

Jul 6 2010   1:22PM GMT

Baited breath or bated breath?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
News media executives watch with ______ breath to see if the iPad can save the industry.
a. bated
b. baited

Answer: a.

Bated is an abbreviation of abated and means lessened or restained. In the case of breath, it means held.  If you’re waiting for something with bated breath, that means you’re holding your breath.

If, on the other hand, you’re waiting with baited breath, it might mean that you’ve got a sardine in your mouth and you’re trying to lure a cat. Because bait is something used to catch something else.

We’ve got a number of interesting bait-related terms on WhatIs.

There’s scam-baiting, the online sport of beating Internet scammers at their own game. Here’s how it works: You pretend to fall into their trap but trick them into spending money and time trying to actually cash in. The 419 Eater site offers more info and scam-baiting tips, in case you’ve got time on your hands and a vigilante attitude.

Then there’s phishing, in which a scammer uses legitimate-looking messages as bait for the unwary.

And then there’s flamebaiting, another rainy day activity in which messages are deliberately crafted to inflame the passions of readers and so elicit furious reactions. Fun!

Michael Quinion writes about baited vs. bated breath on World Wide Words

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1  Comment on this Post

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  • brotherdoc
    Restained or restrained? If your breath is restrained it means it is being held.  If it is restained perhaps it means you have not been using the proper whitening toothpaste.
    10 pointsBadges:

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