Doug from Traverse City
asked about the origin of what is now a cliché: with bated breath. Bated is a shortened version of abated, meaning
reduced, limited, subdued, stopped. So if you are waiting with bated breath,
you are holding your breath in suspense, shock, terror, or some other arresting
emotion. By the way, the word is increasingly being spelled incorrectly as
baited. Don’t swallow that hook.
Bated tracks back to a
Latin word that meant to knock down. If you are knocked down, you are stopped
in your tracks, and action is stymied. A few words were built on that root.
They include abate, abatement, debate, and rebate.
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