Bated or baited?


I await your answer with bated breath. Is this correct? Yes.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, this is written incorrectly more than 30% of the time. Many people mistakenly write it as baited breath, probably because bated is not used much these days, and then only in the phrase with bated breath. It is related to abate, which is used much more commonly.

Imagine it’s the grand final of the X-Factor competition. The announcer says, “And the winner is…” (Pause for effect.) The contestants hold their breath so they can hear the result. They are waiting with bated breath.

(PS: Baited means either “with bait on it” (a baited fishing hook), or “annoyed, taunted” (the children baited him because of his appearance) – not really suitable for describing breath.)

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