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50 Mistreated Words and Desecrated Phrases: Baited breath

Here’s a stinky one, but it only shows up in writing.

When a person is eagerly biding his time until some highly anticipated event occurs, we might say he is waiting with bated breath.

But how often do we see this phrase misspelled, so it reads as “baited breath”?

“Baited” and “bated” are homonyms. That means they sound the same, but they are spelled differently. And they mean very different things.

This phrase really means a person is holding his breath. He is so excited that his breathing is abated. His respiration is on hold until the highlight happens.

So, unless this individual recently consumed a boatload of tuna or tripe, he’s not exactly waiting with “baited breath.”

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