Synonyms & Antonyms of bait

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 something used to attract animals to a hook or into a trap
  • cheese is the traditional bait for trapping mice

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2 something that persuades one to perform an action for pleasure or gain
  • the promise of free vacation is surefire bait to get people to agree to be chaperones for school trips

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Synonyms & Antonyms of bait (Entry 2 of 2)

1 to attack repeatedly with mean put-downs or insults
  • I wished the candidates would stop baiting each other and instead address the real issues

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Phrases Synonymous with bait

2 to lead away from a usual or proper course by offering some pleasure or advantage
  • the investment scheme cunningly baits the greedy and the unscrupulous

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See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About bait

How is the word bait distinct from other similar verbs?

Some common synonyms of bait are badger, chivy, heckle, hector, and hound. While all these words mean "to harass by efforts to break down," bait implies wanton cruelty or delight in persecuting a helpless victim.

baited the chained dog

When can badger be used instead of bait?

Although the words badger and bait have much in common, badger implies pestering so as to drive a person to confusion or frenzy.

badgered her father for a car

When would chivy be a good substitute for bait?

While the synonyms chivy and bait are close in meaning, chivy suggests persecution by teasing or nagging.

chivied the new student mercilessly

When is it sensible to use heckle instead of bait?

The words heckle and bait are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, heckle implies persistent annoying or belligerent interruptions of a speaker.

drunks heckled the stand-up comic

When could hector be used to replace bait?

The words hector and bait can be used in similar contexts, but hector carries an implication of bullying and domineering.

football players hectored by their coach

Where would hound be a reasonable alternative to bait?

The meanings of hound and bait largely overlap; however, hound implies unrelenting pursuit and harassing.

hounded by creditors

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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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Thesaurus Entries Near bait



bait and switch

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Cite this Entry

“Bait.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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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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