click·​bait | \ ˈklik-ˌbāt How to pronounce clickbait (audio) \

Definition of clickbait

: something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest It is difficult to remember a time when you could scroll through the social media outlet of your choice and not be bombarded with: You'll never believe what happened when … This is the cutest thing ever … This the biggest mistake you can make … Take this quiz to see which character you are on … They are all classic clickbait models.— Emily Shire

Examples of clickbait in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Speech and clickbait Brad Pitt accepts the SAG Award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role for 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' in January. Chloe Melas, CNN, "There's something about Brad Pitt ... again," 8 Feb. 2020 Some are likely true, while others are little more than desperate clickbait. Popsci Staff, Popular Science, "Samsung’s Galaxy S20, an electric Hummer, and the rest of the current tech rumors," 14 Jan. 2020 These types of images remain a popular form of seasonal clickbait. Alex Pappademas, The New Yorker, "A Reconsideration of Santa’s Lap," 19 Dec. 2019 American media wield influence around the world and are widely aped: the New York Times boasts readers everywhere; websites such as BuzzFeed have inspired similar clickbait sites in dozens of countries. The Economist, "Teenagers are rewriting the rules of the news," 18 Dec. 2019 But Silicon Valley’s efforts to crack down on clickbait and disinformation have pummeled traffic to The Western Journal and other partisan news sites. Justin Bank, New York Times, "Big Tech, a Conservative Provocateur and the Fight Over Disinformation," 21 Aug. 2019 Parents have been reduced to using Fido as clickbait., "Don’t tell the children, but here’s the trick: Text a picture of the family pet.," 13 Oct. 2019 Deprived of context while describing Colorado’s most impactful type of weather, this is an app’s version of unintentional clickbait. Chris Bianchi, The Denver Post, "Be careful with the snowflake icon on your weather app," 7 Oct. 2019 The app has a reputation for promoting lowbrow clickbait. Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, "How TikTok Holds Our Attention," 23 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clickbait.' 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 clickbait

1999, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for clickbait

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The first known use of clickbait was in 1999

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Statistics for clickbait

Last Updated

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Clickbait.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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