Beware of "Baited Breath"

November 3, 2016

Writing Wrongs: The Classic Bait And Bate Switch

by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + Copy Editor Who Can’t Resist…

It’s a common mistake: writing “baited breath” instead of “bated breath.”

I just didn’t expect it in the official publication of the American Marketing Association (October 2016 issue). But there it glared at me from an article about another mistake, Apple’s born-to-be-lost cordless AirPods.

American Marketing Association's "baited breath"

Of course, we all know that “bated” means anxious or excited, while “baited” refers to a loaded trap. Whenever I see “baited breath,” I visualize someone with a worm on a hook dangling in their mouth — or a predatory male who thinks sucking on Tic Tacs will seduce his prey.

Now with that gruesome visual in mind (and I’m not talking about the worm), I’ll be sure to never make that mistake.

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

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