\ 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 That’s because the researchers had placed olfactory bait around the area. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 3 Aug. 2022 If using traps, bait them (peanut butter will work well), but don’t set them for several days. oregonlive, 10 Sep. 2022 Those that aren’t worthy of aquariums are sold instead as bait or feeder fish. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, 24 Aug. 2022 The term comes from the practice of wiggling your fingers underwater like wet noodles to bait a catfish. Matt Carney, Outside Online, 15 June 2022 Disney also shrank Jon Boyega's picture on Chinese movie posters and bait and switched the black audience marketing Finn as a Jedi. Lester Fabian Brathwaite,, 1 June 2022 Thanks to social media, everyday people are thrust into the role of performers, putting themselves forward at all times, hoping to bait the algorithms and, in turn, your eyes. New York Times, 4 Apr. 2022 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Something very small—but not a virus—was eating his bait. Jennifer Frazer, Scientific American, 5 Sep. 2022 Haltermann loaded up his custom 9-foot rods, kayaked about 1,000 yards and dropped his bait, a 10-pound stingray, into the water. Ashlee Burns, USA TODAY, 20 May 2022 Luongo's seemed to be distinct in that his primary bait was a heavy dose of climate denialism. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 25 Apr. 2022 According to the post, the fishermen were looking for monster sharks when something ate their bait. Fox News, 5 June 2021 Nine such organizations can now add Airbnb coupons to their bait, allowing prospective residents to stay in an Airbnb first to test out their environs. Lila Maclellan, Quartz, 12 May 2021 That's when a 30-inch sturgeon knocked my bait, hooked itself and flexed in every direction on its way to our oversized net. Tony Kennedy, Star Tribune, 6 May 2021 Place your bait toward the back of the trap, and the spring door will quickly shut once your critter is inside. Adam Hadhazy, Popular Mechanics, 9 Mar. 2021 The ladies can now rig a line, tie a knot, handle their own bait, put afloat on, reel a fish in and catch and release their fish. Emmett Hall,, 4 Mar. 2021 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

1 Oct 2022

Cite this Entry

“Bait.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 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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