\ 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 The rigs are baited with minnows, crayfish and leeches and worked in the current under a float. cleveland, "Non-resident anglers allowed back on Lake Erie on Friday: Fishing Report," 7 May 2020 After being burned by Harry early in the retreat, Francesca was baiting Kelz into going into the shower with her. Omar Sanchez,, "Too Hot to Handle," 20 Apr. 2020 Instead, they must be baited with something that resembles their target germ. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Breaking Down the Two Tests That Could Help Contain the COVID-19 Pandemic," 7 Apr. 2020 All three major bear hunting methods are used here—baiting, stalking, and using hounds. Gerald Almy, Field & Stream, "Spring Bear Hunting Forecast for the U.S. and Canada," 2 Apr. 2020 But, all of that does bait Darlene into punching Wendy and that right hook could lose her Zeke. Shannon Carlin,, "Ozark Season 3 Binge Club Recap: Episodes 1-10," 30 Mar. 2020 When the Astros apologized en masse Thursday for their electronic sign-stealing during the 2017 season, owner Jim Crane could not be baited into saying the word. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "First sign-stealing, now shine-stealing: Nationals are plenty miffed at 'cheating' Astros," 14 Feb. 2020 But a new study from Fordham University, Columbia University, and Arrow Exterminators Inc. looks at a novel way the rodents could be repelled or baited: with pheromones found in the scents of other rats. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "NYC Has a New Secret Weapon to Defeat All the Rats," 18 Sep. 2019 Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Conservatives had long dallied in race baiting, like the the push poll credited with dooming McCain in the 2000 presidential primary in South Carolina. Laura Mcgann, Vox, "John McCain, Sarah Palin, and the rise of reality TV politics," 26 Aug. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Reggie Miller took the bait, poked the bear and learned a lesson. Scott Horner, Indianapolis Star, "The time Reggie Miller learned not to mess with 'Black Jesus'," 11 May 2020 Unfortunately, the bait in those traps — a mixture of orange juice and rice cooking wine — is attractive to all kinds of native insects, Yanega said, and so far, that’s all people have been catching. Los Angeles Times, "Panicked over ‘murder hornets,’ people are killing native bees we desperately need," 8 May 2020 Saul doesn't take the duplicitous bait, instead telling Wellington about the black box findings and the little Russia problem and also reminding David what Carrie has sacrificed for the country thus far. Seija Rankin,, "Homeland recap: Ka-boom again, again," 13 Apr. 2020 Anglers are casting large spawn bags, jigs tipped with larval baits, spoons, spinners and streamers. cleveland, "Small waters ripe for anglers: Fishing Report for March 6," 6 Mar. 2020 In taking bin Laden’s bait, the nation began an immense revision of its own purpose. James Carroll, The New Yorker, "Lessons to Be Learned from the Afghanistan Papers," 12 Dec. 2019 With Friday’s news, the DNR will add the Minnesota portion of Lake of the Woods to the infested waters list for zebra mussels, so that people who harvest bait, fish commercially or use water from the lake take necessary precautions. Brad Dokken, Twin Cities, "Larval zebra mussels found in Lake of the Woods, Minnesota DNR says," 9 Nov. 2019 Likewise spot, the premier bait for live-lining, will leave. Bill May,, "Bill May: Putting together some fall fishing plans," 13 Oct. 2019 Fish take on fall spawning colors and will strike at just about any bait, lure or fly. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Summer fading to fiery hues of fall in the Sierra," 28 Sep. 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

21 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bait.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2020.

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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

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