Friday, September 29, 2017

An Old Phrase

Today’s post is part of a series where I discuss statements people use—but don’t actually mean—when communicating.

During the past month, I heard this phrase used a few times, and I noticed it in print twice as spelled below.

Baited breath

As in: “I stood by the door with baited breath to see what kind of Halloween candy I was getting.”


“Prior to the selection of the lottery numbers, the audience sat with baited breath.”

The purpose of this idiom (which I misspelled above) is to convey how you’re feeling while waiting for something to happen. You’re in a state of high anticipation and eagerness, and you may be close to holding (or abating) your breath. It’s an archaic but useful phrase in conversation to add meaning to the suspense that you’re undergoing.

As spelled above, it might mean something related to fishing.

Instead, go with the correct spelling of bated breath.

Randall Ponder, Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA   

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