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food, or some substitute, used as a lure in fishing, trapping, etc.
a poisoned lure used in exterminating pests.
an allurement; enticement:
Employees were lured with the bait of annual bonuses.
an object for pulling molten or liquefied material, as glass, from a vat or the like by adhesion.
South Midland and Southern U.S.

a large or sufficient quantity or amount:
He fetched a good bait of wood.
an excessive quantity or amount.

British Slang. food.
to prepare (a hook or trap) with bait.
to entice by deception or trickery so as to entrap or destroy:
using fake signal lights to bait the ships onto the rocks.
to attract, tempt, or captivate.
to set dogs upon (an animal) for sport.
to worry, torment, or persecute, especially with malicious remarks:
a nasty habit of baiting defenseless subordinates.
to tease:
They love to bait him about his gaudy ties.
to feed and water (a horse or other animal), especially during a journey.
to stop for food or refreshment during a journey.
(of a horse or other animal) to take food; feed.
Contemporary Examples

As predicted, the news media (including The Daily Beast) took the bait.
Please Pay Attention to the MERS Warnings Kent Sepkowitz May 30, 2013

The gang does bait two officers with Noah, but another car comes tearing in and whisks them both away.
The Walking Dead’s ‘Crossed’: The Stage Is Now Set for a Bloody, Deadly Midseason Finale Melissa Leon November 23, 2014

The Democratic Governors Association immediately took the bait.
Sarah Palin’s ‘Mama Grizzlies’ Mark McKinnon May 25, 2010

He was the bait in al Qaeda’s triple-agent conspiracy that wrecked havoc on the CIA base in Khost in December 2009.
Osama bin Laden Eulogies: Ayman Zawahiri and al Qaeda Vow Revenge Bruce Riedel June 8, 2011

The Frisky took the bait, writing that “If famous works of art had been created today, they might have a whole different look.”
Botticelli’s Venus Gets Photoshop Treatment Lizzie Crocker May 24, 2014

Historical Examples

And then she gave him a small thrill by neatly taking his bait.
Angela’s Business Henry Sydnor Harrison

Robert went out into the garden, and dug some worms for bait.
Brave and Bold Horatio Alger

Next time we’ll set the bait higher and not set the trigger so fine.
Monarch, The Big Bear of Tallac Ernest Thompson Seton

The waters were full of fish, but they would not take the bait.
Journal of an Expedition into the Interior of Tropical Australia Thomas Mitchell

Therefore I decided to bait the cage for them this very night—Look!
In Search of the Unknown Robert W. Chambers

something edible, such as soft bread paste, worms, or pieces of meat, fixed to a hook or in a trap to attract fish or animals
an enticement; temptation
a variant spelling of bate4
(Northern English, dialect) food, esp a packed lunch
(archaic) a short stop for refreshment during a journey
(transitive) to put a piece of food on or in (a hook or trap)
(transitive) to persecute or tease
(transitive) to entice; tempt
(transitive) to set dogs upon (a bear, etc)
(transitive) (archaic) to feed (a horse), esp during a break in a journey
(intransitive) (archaic) to stop for rest and refreshment during a journey
a variant spelling of bate2

“food put on a hook or trap to lure prey,” c.1300, from Old Norse beita “food,” related to Old Norse beit “pasture,” Old English bat “food,” literally “to cause to bite” (see bait (v.)). Figurative sense “anything used as a lure” is from c.1400.

“to torment or goad (someone unable to escape, and to take pleasure in it),” c.1300, beyten, a figurative use from the literal sense of “to set dogs on,” from the medieval entertainment of setting dogs on some ferocious animal to bite and worry it (the literal use is attested from c.1300); from Old Norse beita “to cause to bite,” from Proto-Germanic *baitan (cf. Old English bætan “to cause to bite,” Old High German beizzen “to bait,” Middle High German beiz “hunting,” German beizen “to hawk, to cauterize, etch”), causative of *bitan (see bite (v.)); the causative word forked into the two meanings of “harass” and “food offered.” Related: Baited; baiting.

“to put food on a hook or in a trap,” c.1300, probably from bait (n.). Related: Baited; baiting.
In addition to the idiom beginning with


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    denoting a deceptive method of selling, by which customers, attracted to a store by sale items, are told either that the advertised bargain item is out of stock or is inferior to a higher-priced item that is available. an act or instance of such practice. A deceptive commercial practice in which customers are induced to […]

  • Bait casting

    the act or technique of casting an artificial or natural lure attached to a silk or nylon line wound on a reel having a revolving spool, the rod used being shorter and less flexible than that used in fly casting. Historical Examples Ted used the crudest kind of hook and line for bait casting. Unexplored! […]

  • Baitfish

    a small fish that is a source of food for a larger fish: Fishermen knew the presence of baitfish meant plenty of bass nearby. Angling. any small fish, as a minnow or shiner, used as bait.

  • Baith

    both. Historical Examples If I had been her, I wad hae blazed it baith to kirk and council;—to his wife’s ear, and to his minister’s! The Shepherd’s Calendar James Hogg There’s mony chances, baith o’ gude and ill, befa’ folk in this warld. The Proverbs of Scotland Alexander Hislop Ye are baith a pair o’ […]

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