bait /beɪt/


I. noun

1. [ mass noun] food placed on a hook or in a net, trap, or fishing area to entice fish or other animals as prey.

herrings make excellent bait for pike.
[ count noun]
fishing with live baits.
2. something intended to entice someone to do something

many potential buyers are reluctant to take the bait.
3. variant spelling of bate1.
II. verb [with obj.]

1. deliberately annoy or taunt (someone)

the other boys revelled in baiting him about his love of literature.
2. cause dogs to attack (a trapped or restrained animal).

people who bait badgers.
3. put bait on (a hook) or in (a trap, net, or fishing area) to entice fish or animals

I used a hook baited with fat.
III. phrases

1. fish or cut bait

(N. Amer.)
‹informal› stop vacillating and decide to act on or disengage from something.

when it comes to flagging brands, companies are being forced to fish or cut bait.
2. rise to the bait
react to a provocation or temptation exactly as intended.

Jenny was being provocatively rude, but he never rose to the bait.
IV. derivatives


– origin Middle English: from Old Norse beit ‘pasture, food’, beita ‘to hunt or chase’.

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