bait

verb
\ 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

bait

noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from bait

Verb

baiter noun

Synonyms for bait

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for bait

Verb

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Early in the fishing season, bait catches more fish than lures. Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Chronicle, "Let's go fishing - everything you need to know about visiting San Pablo Reservoir," 18 Feb. 2021 The email attempts to bait tax preparers into opening a link or attachment. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "IRS to start processing 2020 tax returns Friday: What to know before you file," 12 Feb. 2021 Instead, the Warriors had to unleash Curry during a fourth quarter that could have been used for rest and bait him into winning the game again. Rusty Simmons, SFChronicle.com, "Secrets behind the ‘Boom’: Basically, don’t mock Steph Curry and the Warriors," 26 Jan. 2021 But Reid and coordinator Eric Bieniemy continually bait defenses into looking the wrong way. Ben Goessling, Star Tribune, "Super Bowl quarterbacks turn coaches' innovation into execution," 6 Feb. 2021 Both estimates fall well below the half-a-million crabs or more killed annually to bait eel and whelk pots. Tim Prudente, baltimoresun.com, "How the coronavirus vaccine relies on Maryland’s strangest fishery: horseshoe crabs," 31 Dec. 2020 But Cordero, bored and sensing their agita, decided to bait them even further by tweeting — falsely — that he’d subsequently been fined $150,000 by Grande’s label for his role in spreading the leak. New York Times, "How Pop Music Fandom Became Sports, Politics, Religion and All-Out War," 25 Dec. 2020 As in most lakes of this type, both current and bait schools are likely to be key to success. Frank Sargeant, al, "Bassmaster Elites to Visit Neely Henry Lake," 23 Dec. 2020 On his social media post, Tarrio seemed to bait police. Washington Post, "Proud Boys leader says he burned Black Lives Matter banner stolen from church during demonstrations in D.C.," 19 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But catching large quantities of the tiny fish for bait could have grave ecological ramifications. Roxanne Khamsi, Scientific American, "A Stinky Artificial Bait Could Protect Millions of Tiny Fish," 24 Aug. 2016 Steelheaders generally like jigs in the 1/32-ounce or 1/16-ounce category — best for when the river current is a bit slow — with maggots or an emerald shiner minnow for bait. cleveland, "Rivers low, slow and full of trout: Cleveland-area fishing report for the weekend of Jan. 22-24, 2021," 21 Jan. 2021 Their key bait was a ½ oz black and blue Boss flipping jig with a Zoom big salty chunk. Frank Sargeant, al, "Finesse Fishing Online Class," 13 Jan. 2021 The story begins with the big fish catching the wild man teetering in a kayak out on the ocean when the fish zeroed in for the bait. Eileen Kelley, sun-sentinel.com, "Kayak Willie: The first man to land a sailfish in a kayak. He’s gone now, but his legend remains big as ever.," 29 Dec. 2020 Indeed, the California Democrat is seemingly not alone in having fallen for the bait. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "How China has built its extensive 'honey trap' spy network," 11 Dec. 2020 Instead the locals catch them in nets and eat them, or use them for bait. Nate Matthews, Field & Stream, "F&S Classics: Baja By Bike," 7 Dec. 2020 Crew members on charter boats throw their leftover bait to the animals, Cobas said, which encourages them to hang around. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, "In Oceanside, the sea lions are winning," 2 Dec. 2020 Because dolphins are used for bait, carcasses aren’t brought to port, crew members said. National Geographic, "Wildlife crimes and human rights abuses plague Taiwanese fishing vessels, crews say," 25 Nov. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of bait

Verb

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

Noun

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

History and Etymology for bait

Verb

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

Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bait

Time Traveler for bait

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for bait

Last Updated

27 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bait.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bait. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for bait

bait

verb

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

bait

noun

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

bait

noun
\ 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

bait

verb
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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on bait

What made you want to look up bait? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!