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Baited breath

Posted by James Briggs on November 14, 2000

In Reply to: Baited breath posted by Bob on November 13, 2000

: : waiting with baited breath?

: bated breath. bated, shortened from abated, temporarily halted. Hold your breath while you wait to see the outcome.

Breath: If someone has bated breath they are holding their breath with suspense or fear. 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".