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

There was less clickbait in the News Feed in 2018, but increasingly our eyeballs were moving elsewhere — with group chats and Instagram stories leading the way. Casey Newton, The Verge, "The Verge 2018 tech report card: Facebook," 26 Dec. 2018 These topics appear in the book, in chapters that deal with woman-on-woman hate and gossipy media coverage—the products, Agrawal writes, of scarcity mind-sets and a news business that rewards clickbait. Eliza Brooke, Glamour, "Is the World Ready for Miki Agrawal and Her Next Big Idea?," 4 Apr. 2019 For years, these platforms captured Mr. Sayoc’s attention with a steady flow of outrage and hyperpartisan clickbait and gave him a public venue to declare his allegiance to Mr. Trump and his antipathy for the president’s enemies. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Why social media is friend to far-right politicians around the world," 30 Oct. 2018 For its part, YouTube says it’s already done the work of combating clickbait on the site. Rebecca Jennings, Vox, "YouTube is full of cringey, clickbait DIY channels. They’re even weirder than you think.," 12 Nov. 2018 But as Oliver points out, the things that Facebook apologizes for in its original ad — like rampant clickbait, data misuse, and virally trending false stories — didn’t happen in a vacuum. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "John Oliver fixes Facebook’s apology ad to remind you that the company still doesn’t care about you," 30 July 2018 We're caught in this bad equilibrium where everybody has to write clickbait stuff. Emily Dreyfuss, WIRED, "Judd Legum Wants to Fix News With a Newsletter," 12 July 2018 High-quality publishers were losing out to sketchy clickbait factories. New York Times, "And for His Next Act, Ev Williams Will Fix the Internet," 9 May 2018 Stories about successful Notre Dame football teams are bigger clickbait than stories about kittens who befriend baby turtles. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Notre Dame Is Undefeated and You Won’t Believe What Happens Next," 1 Oct. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near clickbait





click beetle



Statistics for clickbait

Last Updated

26 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for clickbait

The first known use of clickbait was in 1999

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