Definition of bait in English:

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Pronunciation: /bāt/


1Food used to entice fish or other animals as prey: herrings make excellent bait for pike fishing with live baits
More example sentences
  • Most are small, less than three or four feet, but occasionally a pier or jetty angler soaking a big bait hooks a fish with real shoulders.
  • The secret is to look hard for the fish and to present baits in any areas that warrant a cast.
  • Quickly and happily, I went back to the truck to grab my fishing rod and some bait.
lure, decoy, fly, troll, jig, plug
1.1An allurement; a thing intended to tempt or entice: she used the prospect of freedom as bait to trap him into talking many potential buyers are reluctant to take the bait
More example sentences
  • So far most Shiites have declined to take the bait.
  • Not that he would ever actually be elected PM, but you know what I mean - there's not even the potential for it if he won't take the bait, right?
  • Will the PM's morning radio female Piranha take the bait?
enticement, lure, decoy, snare, trap, siren, carrot, attraction, draw, magnet, incentive, temptation, inducement
informal come-on
2 variant spelling of bate2.


[with object]
1Deliberately annoy or taunt (someone): the other boys reveled in baiting him about his love of literature
More example sentences
  • My government actually has to bait people with catchy song in order to do the thing that should be a civic duty.
  • These kids are baiting me because they want to hear it from my own mouth.
  • I don't want him to see me give in to the weight of those urges because his dad has baited me.
taunt, tease, goad, pick on, torment, persecute, plague, harry, bother, harass, hound
informal needle
1.1Torment (a trapped or restrained animal), especially by allowing dogs to attack it.
Example sentences
  • Dogs were often used to bait lions, tigers, bears, and other big mammals as part of bloody spectacles popular with the king and paying visitors.
  • The deer baited by the Ward Union Stag Hunt are, by definition, tame animals, as they have been confined and farmed by the Hunt.
  • In the Middle Ages they were used to chase wild boar, to bait bulls and were also used as bodyguards.
2Prepare (a hook, trap, net, or fishing area) with bait to entice fish or animals as prey: she baited a trap with carrots and corn
More example sentences
  • The size 1 hair-rigged hook was baited with two standard boilies with a pop-up on top.
  • The hook was baited with two maggots and the tackle fished a few inches over-depth.
  • Every time one of her grandkids goes fishing and baits a hook the way Grandma taught them to do, her immortality is assured.


See bated (usage).



fish or cut bait

North American informal Stop vacillating and act on something or disengage from it: when it comes to flagging brands, companies are being forced to fish or cut bait
More example sentences
  • At some point in a long distance/physical strangers relationship, you realize it's time to fish or cut bait.
  • ‘When Ben decided he wanted to come back, we knew we had to fish or cut bait,’ says Cris.
  • Since this man loves fishing, he will no doubt understand when you tell him to fish or cut bait, that you are moving with the children and he is welcome to accept a job and join you.

rise to the bait

React to a provocation or temptation exactly as intended: Jenny was being provocatively rude, but he never rose to the bait
More example sentences
  • If she refuses to rise to the bait and respond to the remark, she is taken to have tacitly admitted the truth of the accusation.
  • He tried to provoke Mr Archer, who is in his 40s, into a street fight but he did not rise to the bait, even when he had turned away and was pushed in the back.
  • Boris rose to the bait, advertised his coming appearance in Hamlet, commissioned a translation, and starred in it, as promised.

with baited breath

misspelling of with bated breath at bated.



Example sentences
  • They should come out and boldly take legal action against the baiter.
  • He is belittled as a race baiter and attention seeker.
  • Hastings pleasantly offered to act in the capacity of general baiter and taker off of fish.


Middle English: from Old Norse beit 'pasture, food', beita 'to hunt or chase'.

  • abet from Late Middle English:

    If you abet someone these days you are very likely to be up to no good, but this was not always the case. Since the late 18th century the word has mainly been found as aid and abet, ‘to help and encourage someone in some wrongdoing’, but in its early use to abet someone was simply to urge them to do something, not necessarily bad. It comes from the Old French word abeter, which could also mean ‘to encourage a hound to bite’. bait (Middle English) has a similar root.

Words that rhyme with bait

abate, ablate, aerate, ait, await, backdate, bate, berate, castrate, collate, conflate, crate, create, cremate, date, deflate, dictate, dilate, distraite, donate, downstate, eight, elate, equate, estate, fate, fête, fixate, freight, frustrate, gait, gate, gestate, gradate, grate, great, gyrate, hate, hydrate, inflate, innate, interrelate, interstate, irate, Kate, Kuwait, lactate, late, locate, lustrate, mandate, mate, migrate, misdate, misstate, mistranslate, mutate, narrate, negate, notate, orate, ornate, Pate, placate, plate, prate, prorate, prostrate, pulsate, pupate, quadrate, rate, rotate, sate, sedate, serrate, short weight, skate, slate, spate, spectate, spruit, stagnate, state, straight, strait, Tate, tête-à-tête, Thwaite, translate, translocate, transmigrate, truncate, underrate, understate, underweight, update, uprate, upstate, up-to-date, vacate, vibrate, wait, weight

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: bait

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