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Bated breath

Posted by James Briggs on January 18, 2003

In Reply to: Bated breath posted by R. Berg on January 18, 2003

: : Would like to know The meaning of the phrase Waiting with baited breath??

: It's "bated breath." It means waiting while holding your breath; compare the popular saying "Don't hold your breath," used when the wait for something is expected to be long and, more likely, the thing may never come. "Bate" means "to lessen the force of; moderate" and is related to "abate" (American Heritage Dictionary).

This use of 'bated' is about the only example left in the English language; 'abate' is much more common. Both words come from the Old French "abatre", to "beat down" or "fell".

See also - the Meaning and origin of 'bated breath'.