Rigel (rigel_7) wrote in fandom_grammar,

ANSWER: Bated and Baited

mercy_slays asks: What's the difference between "bated" and "baited"?

Tony waited for Abby's results with baited breath.


With what? Worms?

I have to admit, that every time I see this very common error, I quietly dissolve into giggles at the thought of the character reeling salmon out of the ether with their tongue.

But why is it "bated"? And where should you use "baited"?

The correct phrase is "bated breath". Bated is a shortened version of the now defunct (or at least very old-fashioned) word "abated", from the verb "abate".

1. To reduce in amount, degree, or intensity; lessen.
2. To deduct from an amount; subtract.
1. To fall off in degree or intensity; subside.

The breath therefore is lessened, or held due to a state of suspense.

Tony waited for Abby's results with bated breath.

"I'll have you know I'm practically dying here, suffocating due to all that bated breath," Tony quipped.

"I'm not going to lure my breath," Ziva warned. "You can just forget about that."
"Ah, you mean bate, right?" A hint of a frown crossed McGee's face.
"Yes. I am not going to catch fish while I wait for Tony to find the answers."

Baited, however, is a completely different kettle of fish. It comes from the verb "bait".

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; a temptation.
v.bait•ed, bait•ing, baits
1. To place a lure in (a trap) or on (a fishing hook).
2. To entice, especially by trickery or strategy.
3. To set dogs upon (a chained animal, for example) for sport.
4. To attack or torment, especially with persistent insults, criticism, or ridicule.
5. To tease.
6. To feed (an animal), especially on a journey.

"Baited" is most commonly used to refer to the deliberate provocation of one character by another.

"You know Ziva – she only bites on days ending in 'y'."
"I've got it all marked out on my calendar. There's a system with sticky notes and different coloured pens. McGeek here related it to some kind of algorithm that explains black holes," Tony baited her again, unable to resist getting in one last dig at her expense.

"Would you two quit baiting each other and find me that missing marine," Gibbs said as he walked past their work stations.

"I'd posit that she was most likely lured to her death by a very skilled predator," said Ducky. "He used a very precise cocktail of drugs, most likely administered in her drink. Perhaps he offered it to her as some kind of bait."

So, to sum up:

Bated breath – people don't fish with their lungs.
Baited when trying to get a reaction.
Tags: !answer, author:rigel_7, errors:common errors, word choice:homophones

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded