What kind of bait do you use?

Yuk! I can’t imagine what kind of breath is baited. Does the Yahoo! Style writer use worms or leeches for bait?

baited breath sty

It’s just too gross to think about. I’ll be waiting with bated breath to see if she corrects this.

Just in case someone from Yahoo! is reading this, here’s an explanation from the American Heritage Dictionary:

The word baited is sometimes incorrectly substituted for the etymologically correct but unfamiliar word bated (“abated; suspended”) in the expression bated breath.

Were they eating worms?

What kind of bait does an audience use when waiting for a hologram to appear on stage? I’m thinkin’ worms if they’re goin’ fishin’. Or maybe if they’re after a rodent, a hefty hunk of Vermont cheddar:

baited music

The writer for Yahoo! Music makes a common homophonic mistake. The correct idiom is bated breath, and it means “with great anticipation.” The verb bate, derived from the verb abate, means “to moderate, lessen, or restrain.”

Of course, there may be times when you mean baited breath. In Cruel, Clever Cat Geoffrey Taylor found a use for the expression:

Sally, having swallowed cheese
Directs down holes the scented breeze
Enticing thus with baited breath
Nice mice to an untimely death.

Taking the bait

What do you use to bait your breath and what do you expect to lure in?

baited breath shine

If you know the meaning of bated (and who among us does?), then you won’t make the same mistake as the Yahoo! Shine writer. The word bate is related to abate (its first letter got dropped a long time ago to produce bate). Both words mean “to reduce in amount, degree, or intensity; lessen.”

Geoffrey Taylor’s poem Cruel Clever Cat manages to make sense of “baited breath”:

Sally, having swallowed cheese,
Directs down holes the scented breeze,
Enticing thus with baited breath
Nice mice to an untimely death.

At least they spelled Hillary Clinton correctly

There’s not much to positive to say about this article on Yahoo! Shine. But I give the writer props for spelling Hillary Clinton’s name correctly. But I gotta take off points for the expression “in that time” when it doesn’t refer to an actual time period. (The writer meant “since that time.”)

hc twit 1

Any professional writer should know that the idiom is not “baited breath,” unless it involves earthworms. The idiom is “bated breath,” meaning “reduced or lessened breath” or a state of almost stopping breathing as a result of a strong emotion like fear.

No shots to the head here, and no headshots, which is what the writer meant:

hc twit 2

I don’t believe it was Ms. Clinton’s BlackBerry that went viral, but a picture of her with a BlackBerry.

Twitter followers are usually of the human type:

hc twit 3

Don’t you wonder if someone has people followers, what other kind of followers they also have? I know I do.

Taking the bait

The writer of this snippet from Yahoo! omg! took the bait and came up with the wrong word:

baited omg

The word bated means “reduced or lessened.”

%d bloggers like this: