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verb (used with object), bat·ed, bat·ing.
  1. to moderate or restrain: unable to bate our enthusiasm.
  2. to lessen or diminish; abate: setbacks that bated his hopes.
verb (used without object), bat·ed, bat·ing.
  1. to diminish or subside; abate.
  1. with bated breath, with breath drawn in or held because of anticipation or suspense: We watched with bated breath as the runners approached the finish line.

Origin of bate1

1250–1300; Middle English, aphetic variant of abate
Can be confusedbaited bated


verb (used without object), bat·ed, bat·ing.
  1. (of a hawk) to flutter its wings and attempt to escape in a fit of anger or fear.
  1. a state of violent anger or fear.

Origin of bate2

1250–1300; Middle English baten to beat, flap (wings, etc.) < Middle French (se) batreLatin battuere to beat; cf. abate


verb (used with or without object), bat·ed, bat·ing.
  1. Tanning. to soak (leather) after liming in an alkaline solution to soften it and remove the lime.
  1. the solution used.

Origin of bate3

1870–75; variant of beat to pare off turf, Old English bǣtan to bait; cognate with Swedish beta to tan, German beissen to macerate
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bate

Historical Examples

  • Bate some expected gain for the risk you save, and say what is your price.'

    The Life And Adventures Of Nicholas Nickleby

    Charles Dickens

  • I didn't say that; I only said they gave me the name because they said I bate him.

  • Do you think that I could be bate without allowing myself to be bate?


    George Borrow

  • “‘Bate me an ace, quoth Bolton,’” said Dr Thorpe, shrugging his shoulders.

    Robin Tremayne

    Emily Sarah Holt

  • Be the holy japers that bates Bannagher, and Bannagher bate the divle.

    Lady Eureka, v. 3 (of 3)

    Robert Folkestone Williams

British Dictionary definitions for bate


  1. another word for abate
  2. with bated breath holding one's breath in suspense or fear


  1. (intr) (of hawks) to jump violently from a perch or the falconer's fist, often hanging from the leash while struggling to escape

Word Origin

C13: from Old French batre to beat, from Latin battuere; related to bat 1


verb (tr)
  1. to soak (skin or hides) in a special solution to soften them and remove chemicals used in previous treatments
  1. the solution used

Word Origin

Old English bǣtan to bait 1


  1. British slang a bad temper or rage

Word Origin

C19: from bait 1, alluding to the mood of a person who is being baited
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bate


"to reduce, to lessen in intensity," c.1300, shortening of abate (q.v.). Now only in phrase bated breath, which was used by Shakespeare in "The Merchant of Venice" (1596).


c.1300, "to contend with blows or arguments," from Old French batre "to hit, beat, strike," from Late Latin battere, from Latin batuere "to beat, knock" (see batter (v.)). In falconry, "to beat the wings impatiently and flutter away from the perch." Figurative sense of "to flutter downward" attested from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper