Definitions

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Etymologies

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Examples

  • The coiner was Shakespeare in his 1596 Merchant of Venice, in which Shylock says to Antonio, Shall I bend low and in a bondman’s key, / With bated breath and whispering humbleness, / Say this: / ‘Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last?’

    The Right Word in the Right Place at the Right Time

  • The crowned and mitered sentinels who stood on the jasper walls of heaven while cycles perished and millenniums died, left their golden towers, and like burning splinters of broken suns, sweeping from the azure peripheries to the diamond centers, they joined the heavenly perturbation and stood with bated breath and uncovered heads in the great congregation.

    Autobiography, sermons, addresses, and essays of Bishop L. H. Holsey, D. D.,

  • Evil-doing will be spoken of with bated breath and soft words even by policemen, when the evil-doer comes in a carriage, and with a title.

    The Eustace Diamonds

  • The populace have learned to list with silent awe and bated breath to its thundering laudations.

    Life of Rev. A. Crooks, A. M.

  • Yet Moma stood with bated breath as Olikea opened the bag wider and peered within.

    Renegade's Magic

  • Dabbing at his streaming nose, Filch squinted unpleasantly at Harry who waited with bated breath for his sentence to fall.

    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  • With bated breath he hastened back to the sheep-house.

    The Wouldbegoods

  • One afternoon he went out with Arthur to the University of California, and, with bated breath and a feeling of religious awe, went through the laboratories, saw demonstrations, and listened to a physics professor lecturing to his classes.

    Chapter 11

Comments

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  • The phrase is from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, 1596:

    "With bated breath, and whispring humblenesse."

    It's a contraction of "abated breath," or "stopped breath." Imagine the gap in breathing that occurs right after a gasp or the cessation of breath that happens when you see something astonishing. It's very often misspelled "baited breath."

    July 18, 2009

  • You must see baited breath. It's reely funny!

    July 3, 2009

  • crypto, if you had clicked on the link, you would see that noone is suggesting baited breath is correct.

    July 3, 2009

  • No, do not see "baited" breath. One does not bait one's breath, though I suppose there are those whose breath suggests they have. One "bates" one's breath, as in "abate", or stay, or suspend.

    July 3, 2009

  • See baited breath.

    September 15, 2007