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We are all no doubt familiar with the phrase "with bated breath," but is it ever used in other contexts?

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the bated wage ... – GEdgar Jul 2 '12 at 1:30
Something something dirty joke about the guy in charge. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jul 2 '12 at 1:44
Maybe there is more contemporary use through its cousin "abate". Abate thy speed and I will bate of mine. Dryden. Otherwise the sense is mostly beat, like birds' wings and dancers' feet, All plumed like estridges that with the wind / Bated Henry IV:pt 1. – jitard Jul 2 '12 at 3:45
Why did I never see it spelled like this? I've -always- seen baited breath... – SF. Sep 2 '12 at 13:44
@SF: Your version comes from an old pun: the cat ate cheese so he could wait by the mouse hole with baited breath. – cobaltduck Nov 30 '15 at 16:42
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Yes. Aside from its meaning within the idiom "with bated breath," bate as a verb can mean 1) to moderate or restrain, or 2) to lessen or diminish, among other definitions.

To give an example, as you can see in this dictionary entry, one can have bated sentiments such as bated enthusiasm or bated hopes:

An example sentence here would be "After waiting two and a half hours in line for the Empire State Building observatory, we finally trudged into the elevator with bated enthusiasm."

It would seem that many things can be "bated," so long as it makes sense for it to be moderated, restrained, lessened, or diminished. There is even a proverb that goes "In the report of riches and goodness always bate one half."

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It is however exceedingly rare other than with breath. – Colin Fine Jul 2 '12 at 10:03

In historic England (a long time ago) there was a form of entertainment called bull or bear bating. This was were a pack of dogs were set to attack a bull or bear, it was said then that a certain bull etc, was 'bated'.

From this came the English expression to 'bate' someone, that is for a group of people to deliberately annoy someone, as the dogs did in bull or bear bating.

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That word is bait and not bate; bait has Germanic roots, and bate is akin to abate, which has Latin roots. And deliberately annoying somebody is not even close to what bated breath actually means. – Peter Shor Sep 21 '12 at 15:10
Yes, seems your right. Will take more care with spelling in future... – john Sep 21 '12 at 16:19
@john "your right"? Seems you should take more care with spelling, indeed! – timothymh Sep 23 '12 at 15:16
@john trolls well methinks – the0ther Apr 25 '14 at 20:32

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