\ ˈbāt How to pronounce bait (audio) \
baited; baiting; baits

Definition of bait

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to persecute or exasperate with unjust, malicious, or persistent attacks bait minority groups : to try to make angry with criticism or insults baiting a politician during a debate
b : tease
2a : to harass (a chained animal, such as a bear) with dogs usually for sport
b : to attack by biting and tearing dogs baiting a fox
3a : to furnish with bait (see bait entry 2) bait a fishing line bait a trap
b : entice, lure baiting prospective buyers
4 : to give food and drink to (an animal) especially on the road

intransitive verb

archaic : to stop for food and rest when traveling



Definition of bait (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : something (such as food) used in luring especially to a hook or trap using worms for bait
b : a poisonous material placed where it will be eaten by harmful or objectionable animals
2 : lure, temptation using bargains as bait for shoppers

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Other Words from bait


baiter noun

Synonyms for bait

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for bait


bait, badger, heckle, hector, chivy, hound mean to harass by efforts to break down. bait implies wanton cruelty or delight in persecuting a helpless victim. baited the chained dog badger implies pestering so as to drive a person to confusion or frenzy. badgered her father for a car heckle implies persistent annoying or belligerent interruptions of a speaker. drunks heckled the stand-up comic hector carries an implication of bullying and domineering. football players hectored by their coach chivy suggests persecution by teasing or nagging. chivied the new student mercilessly hound implies unrelenting pursuit and harassing. hounded by creditors

Examples of bait in a Sentence

Verb baiting hooks with live worms The interviewer kept baiting the politician by asking him whether he was lying. Noun cheese used for bait in mousetraps Wait until the fish takes the bait. a wide selection of lures and baits
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Straight Pride Parade’ is an attempt to bait the Boston LGBTQ community, as well as racial and ethnic minority communities in Boston. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Sasha Goodfriend: A Day in the Life of a Menstrual Rights Activist," 21 Nov. 2019 QBs could decide Iron Bowl outcome Both defenses will try to pressure and bait the opposing quarterback into critical mistakes. Christopher Smith, al, "Auburn could be the Iron Bowl betting favorite," 19 Nov. 2019 Princess Leia, the obvious choice, was most recognizable in an ogle-baiting metal bikini. Wired, "Everybody Loves Rey, a Star Wars Story," 18 Nov. 2019 The few changes are in local areas, such as baiting and feeding bans enacted this fall in Barron, Burnett, Polk and Washburn counties in response to the finding of chronic wasting disease at an elk farm west of Shell Lake. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Deer population at potential record high as hunters set sights on 2019 Wisconsin gun season," 16 Nov. 2019 At the snap, Lindsay fakes a handoff to Spencer, which baits Vernon (54) inside, exposing the outside for Lindsay’s taking. Ellis L. Williams, cleveland, "Browns needed Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon to do their job on 2 key plays vs. Broncos, and they didn’t -- Film Review," 7 Nov. 2019 Veterans of the 2016 presidential campaign of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are still reeling from the wreckage Trump wrought during the Republican primaries by trolling, baiting and circulating outright lies about Cruz. Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times, "Trump’s attacks on Biden follow a playbook he’s practiced for more than 30 years," 11 Oct. 2019 The discovery of a single rat does not trouble Merrill's team much because it can be trapped or baited fairly easily. Author: Amanda Coletta, Anchorage Daily News, "Alberta, Canada: Rat-free for 70 years," 28 Sep. 2019 It was meant to bait the media or people with liberal ideals to overreact, ADL experts say, and therefore look ridiculous for condemning such an innocuous sign. Sara Sidner, CNN, "'OK' is now a hate symbol, the ADL says," 26 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun At least two of the billionaires shown in the ad took the bait. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "2020 Daily Trail Markers: After Kentucky win, Democrats turn their eyes to Louisiana," 14 Nov. 2019 To make matters worse, the women profiled appeared to take the bait. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "CNN Appoints Some ‘Leaders on Impeachment’: raceAhead," 30 Sep. 2019 However, the sea creature was far too big to fit into the boat, so the crew tied it to the side of their vessel and steered slowly back to the bait shop. Fox News, "510-pound monster shark reeled in after 3-hour fight: 'Literally man versus beast'," 24 Aug. 2019 The Murderkill River has claimed a nearby bait shop that stood as an icon to the surrounding town’s history as a commercial fishing hotspot. USA TODAY, "Milestone rhino, Bigfoot shooting, jailed for feeding cats: News from around our 50 states," 1 Aug. 2019 In small-town America, the convenience store is the modern-day trading post, the only grocery store, coffee shop, bait shop, eatery, liquor store, or gathering place for miles around. Tony Rehagen,, "Farewell to hot dog rollers and roadside chats: an elegy for the American gas station," 11 July 2019 The physical space was created by merging four different businesses together, including a bait shop and a convenience store. Shaun Goodwin, kansascity, "She beat back bullies at age 12, and now she's a businesswoman at 15," 26 June 2018 SE Sylvan Beach Park 31-acre park features a boat ramp, fishing pier, bait shop and swimming. Houston Chronicle, "Where to go fishing in the Houston area," 10 May 2018 Our goal of this package is not to ostracize, separate, or add to the maelstrom of click-bait on the internet. Lindsay Schallon, Glamour, "Let's Talk About the ‘F’ Word," 26 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bait.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bait


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for bait


Middle English, from Old Norse beita; akin to Old English bǣtan to bait, bītan to bite — more at bite


Middle English, from Old Norse beit pasturage & beita food; akin to Old English bītan to bite

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Learn More about bait

Time Traveler for bait

Time Traveler

The first known use of bait was in the 13th century

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Statistics for bait

Last Updated

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Bait.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 12 December 2019.

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More Definitions for bait


How to pronounce bait (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of bait

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to put a piece of food on (a hook) or in (a trap) in order to attract and catch fish or animals
: to try to make (someone) angry by using criticism or insults
: to use dogs to make (an animal, such as a bear or bull) angry or afraid



English Language Learners Definition of bait (Entry 2 of 2)

: something (such as a piece of food) that is used to attract fish or animals so they can be caught


\ ˈbāt How to pronounce bait (audio) \

Kids Definition of bait

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something that is used to attract fish or animals so they can be caught


baited; baiting

Kids Definition of bait (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to put something (as food) on or in to attract and catch fish or animals bait a trap
2 : to torment by mean or unjust attacks They baited him by using a nickname he hated.

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More from Merriam-Webster on bait

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bait

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bait

Spanish Central: Translation of bait

Nglish: Translation of bait for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bait for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about bait

Comments on bait

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a period of high artistic development

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