Definition of bait in English:



  • 1mass 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’
    • ‘Of my four children, he was the one with endless patience, the one who read up on fishing techniques, different bait, hooks, lures, whatever.’
    • ‘We are more concerned here with the marine species aspect of the study which began after the Government announced that it was considering a ban on using live worms as fish bait!’
    • ‘The advantage of using chum is that the slowly settling bits of bait can draw deep fish to the surface; this allows the astute angler to be selective.’
    • ‘The secret is to look hard for the fish and to present baits in any areas that warrant a cast.’
    • ‘This week we will look at introducing bait to get the fish feeding in the right areas.’
    • ‘This movement carries a smorgasbord of bait to schools of fish ganged in or near the cuts.’
    • ‘Most are small, less than three or four feet, but occasionally a pier or jetty angler soaking a big bait hooks a fish with real shoulders.’
    • ‘Since when has the colour of the weights we use stopped the fish eating our bait?.’
    • ‘The exception might be near the mouth of a free-running pass, where outgoing flow might carry bait and fish from the bay into the surf.’
    • ‘They took a sailfish on live fish bait suspended approximately 20 feet below the surface at 11: 10 in the morning.’
    • ‘The saltwater fisherman drifting a natural bait on a circle hook can free-spool several counts of line, then throw the reel in gear and point the rod at the fish.’
    • ‘The fishing in turbulent, sandy water usually is best on natural bait fished with a big rig and heavy weight near bottom.’
    • ‘The bigger question is whether the Hispanic population is going to put up with the inevitable race baiting that underlies these periodic bash-fests.’
    • ‘If MCM inspectors catch anyone fishing or collecting bait or shellfish in these areas they will issue fines.’
    • ‘The hotel caters for many avid fishers, and can store bait and fishing rods for Dave and Deirdre.’
    • ‘This would be suitable for all bait fishing with dead or live baits of a reasonable size.’
    • ‘This fish is commonly used for bait in the fishing industry.’
    • ‘The possum industry would trap or use cyanide-laden bait so that the animals could be recovered and used.’
    • ‘Quickly and happily, I went back to the truck to grab my fishing rod and some bait.’
    • ‘One fish took my entire bait off the hook with no problem.’
    lure, decoy, fly, troll, jig, plug, teaser
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Something intended to entice someone to do something.
      ‘many potential buyers are reluctant to take the bait’
      • ‘With Fox out of the picture (at least until the story breaks elsewhere), who's going to take the bait?’
      • ‘He was smart enough by now not to take the bait and sighed as he pulled into a parking spot.’
      • ‘If you're inclined to take the bait, proceed with caution.’
      • ‘So far most Shiites have declined to take the bait.’
      • ‘So he had no bait on a fishing trip, so to speak; and Mr. Ha was just waiting to be reeled in at midnight.’
      • ‘Asked how good a player Carter might become, he refuses to take the bait, and issues a warning instead.’
      • ‘If only 100 recipients take the bait, it is worthwhile since emails cost next to nothing to output.’
      • ‘King didn't take the bait, but he was assassinated two years later in Memphis.’
      • ‘The only major-league acts yet to take the bait are the Smiths, the Jam and the Police - but it's only a matter of time.’
      • ‘If you are so against feuds being artificially built up by the media then don't take the bait and shoot your mouth off in response.’
      • ‘When stars light up on the big screen, do kids take the bait?’
      • ‘Will the PM's morning radio female Piranha take the bait?’
      • ‘And after a few days of dangling it in front of you like bait, which you were all smart enough not to jump at, he never did call her.’
      • ‘I gritted my teeth and decided not to take the bait.’
      • ‘The congressional subpoenas were fishing lines with no bait and no hook.’
      • ‘If only they knew that the only way to prevent this happening is if they didn't take the bait.’
      • ‘She was tossing me bait, like she had for years, but this time I didn't want it.’
      • ‘I believe this is a red herring that has worked well in past arguments and you keep hoping for someone to take the bait once again.’
      • ‘Not that he would ever actually be elected PM, but you know what I mean - there's not even the potential for it if he won't take the bait, right?’
      • ‘She wanted to see if Katherine would take the bait.’
      enticement, lure, decoy, snare, trap, siren, carrot, attraction, draw, magnet, incentive, temptation, allurement, incitement, inducement
      View synonyms
  • 2

    variant spelling of bate


[with object]
  • 1Deliberately annoy or taunt (someone)

    ‘the other boys revelled in baiting him about his love of literature’
    • ‘When was the last time you had blatant race baiting?’
    • ‘He was trying to help some of his female German fellow workers who were being harassed and baited with cries of ‘work-shy Turks’.’
    • ‘He came into office promising Black Power in the city, then made a career out of gratuitous race baiting and thumbing his nose at the white suburbs.’
    • ‘My government actually has to bait people with catchy song in order to do the thing that should be a civic duty.’
    • ‘The younger girl wondered if Sanura was baiting her, teasing her like she always did, or if she knew what she was really saying to Kira.’
    • ‘But it wasn't only journalists of the left who indulged in Israel baiting.’
    • ‘But, I probably wouldn't expect to avoid it if I baited and insulted a bunch of great big thugs who hold a different political point of view.’
    • ‘We argued, pushed, pulled, baited, yelled, and eventually the lady kicked us out telling us to just go home.’
    • ‘He indulged in some East Coast baiting and proclaimed Los Angeles to be the center of the world.’
    • ‘These kids are baiting me because they want to hear it from my own mouth.’
    • ‘Born and reared in the east Alabama town of Oxford, the Navy veteran and ex-radio deejay had fashioned a career out of controversy and race baiting.’
    • ‘Even to those who consistently disagree with and bait me, I appreciate your comments and thoughts because you keep me thinking.’
    • ‘I wondered if he was just trying to bait me, jokingly tease me.’
    • ‘In soccer it has nearly become acceptable to bait opposing fans, to chant and jeer at the other team's followers.’
    • ‘My surprise was magnified when, instead of baiting me, Cale took one deliberate step forward and lazily asked, ‘So, are you going to eat lunch?’’
    • ‘Dante couldn't help baiting and rubbing her face in her partner's betrayal.’
    • ‘I don't want him to see me give in to the weight of those urges because his dad has baited me.’
    • ‘But the kids of the local came around and started baiting that daft little girl.’
    • ‘All of this happened while he endured endless taunting and baiting by racist opponents and hostile crowds and frigid responses from some of his own teammates.’
    • ‘This movie doesn't begin to understand what movies are all about, and uses race and race baiting as a means of telling an overly tepid tale about street justice.’
    taunt, goad, provoke, pick on, torment, torture, persecute, badger, plague, harry, harass, hound, tease, annoy, irritate, get someone's back up
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Cause dogs to attack (a trapped or restrained animal)
      ‘people who bait badgers’
      • ‘Bull owners pride themselves on making their animals as aggressive as possible either by baiting them or feeding them large quantities of arrack, the local firewater.’
      • ‘Of course, if you'd rather bait bears - well, it's a rather unpleasant thing to do, and you shouldn't.’
      • ‘Dogs were often used to bait lions, tigers, bears, and other big mammals as part of bloody spectacles popular with the king and paying visitors.’
      • ‘And characteristics desired at earlier times for fighting and baiting purposes were exaggerated so that the unfortunate dog became unhappily abnormal.’
      • ‘Supporters of a ballot proposal that would ban bear trapping, baiting and hunting with dogs were upset over an ad that began running in September featuring a state biologist opposing the initiative.’
      • ‘They also kill badgers as well by something called baiting, but I don't know much about that.’
      • ‘Fight the good fight and stop fox baiting now and leave the beaches open for every living creature that God created.’
      • ‘Gangs of New York leaves the viewer drunk and euphoric on the sight of so much blood, like the Five Points crowds that flock to the dog baiting matches or cheer Bill on as he performs his ‘fearsome acts’.’
      • ‘Unrestrained dogs can easily be baited or distracted.’
      • ‘The badgers are baited by terriers and those who watch them bet large amounts of money on which terrier will put up the best fight against the badger.’
      • ‘Most think that it refers to the fact that an albino bear was baited here.’
      • ‘Fife Constabulary's wildlife crime officer described baiting, specially trained dogs being set on badgers, as brutally vicious.’
      • ‘The only record we have of Henslowe's polar bears being put to any use is that one of them was baited with dogs while swimming in the Thames, for the amusement of the Spanish ambassador.’
      • ‘In the Middle Ages they were used to chase wild boar, to bait bulls and were also used as bodyguards.’
      • ‘The deer baited by the Ward Union Stag Hunt are, by definition, tame animals, as they have been confined and farmed by the Hunt.’
  • 2Put bait on (a hook) or in (a trap, net, or fishing area) to entice fish or animals.

    ‘I used a hook baited with fat’
    • ‘Every time one of her grandkids goes fishing and baits a hook the way Grandma taught them to do, her immortality is assured.’
    • ‘The hook was baited with sweetcorn and I caught a last ocean-going roach at midnight for the hell of it.’
    • ‘The time to respond to requests for block baiting, which is Chicago's term for setting out baited glue-board traps for alley rats, has doubled since 2001.’
    • ‘Use a drop or two on the fingertips before baiting up.’
    • ‘Moving quietly into position, the hook was baited with a big chunk of meat.’
    • ‘Before baiting, mow the grass so more bait can reach the trails and burrows used by voles.’
    • ‘The size 1 hair-rigged hook was baited with two standard boilies with a pop-up on top.’
    • ‘No eggs were deposited on non-bearing apple shoots baited with Et-E, Z-DD or the solvent control lures during the 2002 study.’
    • ‘The float was locked in position by the bulk shot, with only a number 4 shot about 1ft from the size 8 hook that was baited with a piece of flake.’
    • ‘We sat beneath the willows, and Cadmar dug for red worms with a little spade he took from his basket, and then both he and Gyric baited the hooks, and tied the thread lines to willow wands which Cadmar cut fresh.’
    • ‘Fishing is allowed; however, your child should not bait the hook, take the fish off the hook, or clean the fish.’
    • ‘What would it feel like to bait a hook with one of these animals, and reel in a fifty-pound largemouth?’
    • ‘Michael would have to learn to bait the hooks, clean and filet the fish and pack gear when they went ashore.’
    • ‘Wall text explains that Joo rigged a camera inside an embalmed caribou carcass, left it in the woods baited with fresh meat and attempted to restart nature's feeding cycles.’
    • ‘The hook was baited with two maggots and the tackle fished a few inches over-depth.’
    • ‘Literally hundreds of millions of hooks are baited on long lines, and albatrosses have come to see fishing boats as a food source - albeit a very dangerous one.’
    • ‘They learn how to fish, including how to bait the hook, tie knots and rig tackle, even back up a trailer and dock a boat.’
    • ‘A third apple trial was conducted during 2002 in the Moxee apple orchard to examine if oviposition could be stimulated to occur on non-bearing shoots baited with Et-E, Z-DD lures.’
    • ‘The hook was baited with a little wet bread and the tackle landed on top of the very small ball of fluidised bread that I had just introduced.’
    • ‘In addition, approximately 2-fold more eggs were laid in cages baited with Et-E, Z-DD lures versus with solvent-only lures in no-choice tests.’


  • fish or cut bait

    • 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’
      • ‘By the second season of any TV show, you usually know if it's going to fish or cut bait.’
      • ‘After more than two and a half years of studying ocean ills and opportunities, a blue-ribbon panel of experts says it's time to fish or cut bait.’
      • ‘Since this man loves fishing, he will no doubt understand when you tell him to fish or cut bait, that you are moving with the children and he is welcome to accept a job and join you.’
      • ‘‘When Ben decided he wanted to come back, we knew we had to fish or cut bait,’ says Cris.’
      • ‘At some point in a long distance/physical strangers relationship, you realize it's time to fish or cut bait.’
  • 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’
      • ‘It's precisely because Beckham isn't rising to the bait that Luccin can afford to be so bold.’
      • ‘Boris rose to the bait, advertised his coming appearance in Hamlet, commissioned a translation, and starred in it, as promised.’
      • ‘He almost rose to the bait when a financial journalist as much as accused him personally for being responsible for the overnight increase of the euro against the dollar.’
      • ‘If she refuses to rise to the bait and respond to the remark, she is taken to have tacitly admitted the truth of the accusation.’
      • ‘He tried to provoke Mr Archer, who is in his 40s, into a street fight but he did not rise to the bait, even when he had turned away and was pushed in the back.’
      fight back, strike back, hit back, respond, react, reply, reciprocate, counterattack, return fire, return the compliment, put up a fight, take the bait, rise to the bait, return like for like, get back at someone, get, give tit for tat, give as good as one gets, let someone see how it feels, give someone a dose of their own medicine, give someone a taste of their own medicine
      View synonyms
  • with baited breath


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