\ 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

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
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb China’s intelligence services have also used the pilgrimage to bait Uighurs in safe European jurisdictions. Time, 24 Mar. 2022 Following footprints to better bait Phishing attacks have doubled from early 2020. Ravi Sen, The Conversation, 8 Apr. 2022 As Curry ignored Porter’s efforts to bait him, Curry’s teammates had a sense of what was to come. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 31 Jan. 2022 In the past, various governments have tried to use the allure of fast cash to bait pilots to switch sides during a conflict—a tempting offer for pilots who don’t make much money, and may not agree with their government’s policies. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 16 Mar. 2022 Euphoria has always been refreshing in its depiction of teenage life; even the more outrageous story lines don’t feel specifically designed to bait us. Raven Smith, Vogue, 26 Jan. 2022 On Tuesday afternoon, an emo festival designed to bait millennials around the world materialized of thin air. Brittany Spanos, Rolling Stone, 18 Jan. 2022 Cybercriminals are always waiting for the next big lure to bait their traps. Lee Mathews, Forbes, 31 Oct. 2021 Tammy Faye Bakker’s life has all the sordid events that make playing her obvious awards bait, but what made Chastain so latch on to the role? Jackson Mchenry, Vulture, 12 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun So no, Wagner — a five-star point guard out of hoops hotbed Camden, N.J. — didn't take the bait Friday night at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League stop in Indianapolis. Brett Dawson, The Courier-Journal, 23 Apr. 2022 The last option is making a big run at Murray and hoping the Cardinals take the bait. Ben Volin,, 26 Mar. 2022 Regardless, Randall doesn't take the bait, but addresses it privately to Kevin later. Amanda Ostuni,, 9 Mar. 2022 Filmmakers had every intention of making a serious look at the horrors of child abuse, the sort of film that today might be labeled awards bait. Callahan Tormey, Town & Country, 8 May 2022 The bait would kill cellulose-digesting protozoa in the termite gut, leading to the termite's death. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 May 2022 Lucero arrives home at around 3 P.M. for lunch but returns to the sea by sunset to fish for tuna and jackfish, which become shark bait. Adam Skolnick, Outside Online, 4 May 2022 Work a shallow-running jerk bait with long sweeps of the fishing rod. cleveland, 28 Apr. 2022 An all-day French American bistro will take over the storefront once occupied by one of Manhattan’s only bait and tackle shops. Jay Cheshes, WSJ, 26 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for bait

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near bait



bait and switch

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Statistics for bait

Last Updated

28 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Bait.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for bait


\ 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on bait

Nglish: Translation of bait for Spanish Speakers

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


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