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Commonly Confused Words: Bated vs. Baited


What does each word mean?

If something is bated, it means it is diminished or moderated. The word is rarely used outside of the expression ‘bated breath’.

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is bated used in some example sentences:

  • He waited with bated breath to see what she would say next.
  • The audience watched with bated breath as the chase scene unfolded.

Click here to create a Spellzone vocabulary list including the word bated.

If you bait something, it means you are lure, entice, or trap it. If you bait someone, it means you taunt or harass them. If something is bait, it means it is the thing being used to lure or entice.

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is baited used in some example sentences:

  • The children loved baiting the teacher.
  • I believe badger baiting was a cruel and unnecessary practice.
  • She baited the fishing hook.
  • We use worms as bait.

Click here to create a Spellzone vocabulary list including the word baited

Where does each word come from?

Bated dates back to around 1300. It first meant ‘to alleviate, allay’ and then later it also meant ‘supress, do away with’. By the late fourteenth century, it was used as shortened version of the word ‘abate’ meaning ‘to reduce, cease’.

Bait, meaning ‘to torment or persecute’, dates back to around 1200. Around 1400, the word started to be used to describe the act of putting food on a fishing line or in a trap and, by the seventeenth century, baited also meant ‘furnished with bait’. The word comes from the Old Norse ‘beita’ meaning ‘to bite’ which comes from the Proto Germanic ‘baitjan’.

Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between these words?

  • Bated has the word ate in it. Breathing and eating are both actions that use the mouth.
  • Baited has the word it in it. Try and put both words in a sentence, such as: ‘She baited it.’

Where can I find other posts about easy-to-confuse words?

Sources: The Online Etymology Dictionary.


17 Oct 2017
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