[ beyt ]
/ beɪt /


verb (used with object)

verb (used without object) Archaic.

to stop for food or refreshment during a journey.
(of a horse or other animal) to take food; feed.

Origin of bait

1150–1200; Middle English bait, beit (noun), baiten (v.) < Old Norse, probably reflecting both beita to pasture, hunt, chase with dogs or hawks (ultimately causative of bíta to bite; cf. bate3) and beita fish bait

Related forms

bait·er, nouno·ver·bait, verb (used with object)re·bait, verb (used with object)un·bait, verb (used with object)

Can be confused

bait batebaited bated Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bait

British Dictionary definitions for bait (1 of 2)


/ (beɪt) /



Word Origin for bait

C13: from Old Norse beita to hunt, persecute; related to Old English bǣtan to restrain, hunt, Old High German beizen


The phrase with bated breath is sometimes wrongly spelled with baited breath

British Dictionary definitions for bait (2 of 2)


/ (beɪt) /


a variant spelling of bate 2
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

Idioms and Phrases with bait


In addition to the idiom beginning with bait

  • bait and switch

also see:

  • fish or cut bait
  • jump at (the bait)
  • rise to the bait
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.