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bated breath


the condition of waiting for something to happen; subdued breathing due to high emotions


With bated breath, they went to the mailbox every day.

Word Origin

1933; based on bate meaning 'to moderate, restrain''s 21st Century Lexicon
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Examples from the Web for bated breath
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • With bated breath and throbbing heart I watched his slow progress across the open country.

    Cruisings in the Cascades George O. Shields
  • The knot of spectators around the table watched with bated breath.

    The Silent Bullet Arthur B. Reeve
  • The very postman and tradesmen only approach it with bated breath.

  • In silence they waited with bated breath while the awful moments passed.

  • And with bated breath they let the dead cart rumble by with its ghastly burden.

    Faithful Margaret Annie Ashmore
  • All admitted that they did hear some sort of a sound and sat with bated breath.

    Blue Bonnet in Boston Caroline E. Jacobs
  • I was kneeling by Jack, and was not intended to hear what all were too hot and excited to guard by bated breath.

    Hugh Wynne, Free Quaker S. Weir Mitchell
Word Origin and History for bated breath

see bate (v.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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