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with bated breath

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Eagerly or anxiously, as in We waited for the announcement of the winner with bated breath. This expression literally means “holding one's breath” (bate means “restrain”). Today it is also used somewhat ironically, indicating one is not all that eager or anxious. [Late 1500s] Also see hold one's breath, def. 2.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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