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a. Food or other lure placed on a hook or in a trap and used in the taking of fish, birds, or other animals.
b. Something, such as a worm, used for this purpose.
2. An enticement, temptation, or provocation: He did not take the bait by responding to the taunt and getting drawn into an argument.
v. bait·ed, bait·ing, baits
1. To place a lure in (a trap) or on (a fishing hook).
2. To entice or provoke, especially by trickery or strategy: He baited me into selling him my bike by saying how much I deserved a better one.
3. To set dogs upon (a chained animal, for example) for sport.
4. To taunt or torment (someone), as with persistent insults or ridicule: "He baited him mercilessly and had all sorts of unpleasant names for him" (Ruth Prawer Jhabvala).
5. To feed (an animal), especially on a journey.
To stop for food or rest during a trip.
[Middle English, from Old Norse beita, food, fodder, fish bait. V., from Old Norse beita, to put animals to pasture, hunt with dogs; see bheid- in Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: The word baited is sometimes incorrectly substituted for the etymologically correct but unfamiliar word bated ("abated; suspended") in the expression bated breath.
Variant of bate2.
tr.v. bat·ed, bat·ing, bates
1. To lessen the force or intensity of; moderate: "To his dying day he bated his breath a little when he told the story" (George Eliot). See Usage Note at bait1.
2. To take away; subtract.
[Middle English baten, short for abaten; see abate.]
bate 2also bait (bāt)
intr.v. bat·ed, bat·ing, bates also bait·ed or bait·ing or baits
To flap the wings wildly or frantically. Used of a falcon.
[Middle English baten, from Old French batre, to beat; see batter1.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.