LB: “Baited Breath?”

by Larry Brody

No, dammit. Just no.

The phrase isn’t “baited breath,” as in fishing, it’s “bated breath,” as in abated, as in holding one’s breath!

Yes, it’s true. I saw this often-misspelled phrase just the other morning, while reading a highly acclaimed science fiction novel on my Kindle, and guess what?

In spite of the general critical and popular approval this book has received, I stopped reading right there and then and went to my Amazon.Com “Contents & Devices” page and returned it.

Because…well, if you don’t know why you need to educate yourself, especially if you are – or want to be – a writer.

Derek Haines of the website JustPublishingAdvice.Com pinpoints the problem:

It [bated breath] means to wait in an excited or anxious state while expecting something to happen…[however] the meaning of the word [bait] as a verb or adjective is to entice or lure.

Inasmuch as writing is a means of communication, using a word the meaning of which is so far from the way it’s being used totally defeats the purpose, and in our current era of massive miscommunication, I have no patience for anyone – even the writer of an acclaimed book – who contributes to the situation.

As we used to say in the ’60s, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Or, to get down to my personal problem here, when I read something, I’m putting all my trust in the writer of what I’m reading, and a dumbass mistake like this shows that they either don’t deserve or don’t care about my trust.

Which means, sorry, friend, but I’m outta there.

Am I sounding a bit overheated here, like Bono when in the middle of a song he looks hard at the audience and asks, “Am I bugging you?”

Well, like Bono, “I mean to bug you.” Because that’s what those of us who have the best interests of others at heart all too often need to do.

Don’t forget to read all of the Derek Haines article HERE


Author: LB

A legendary figure in the television writing and production world with a career going back to the late ’60s, Larry Brody has written and produced hundreds of hours of American and worldwide television and is a consultant to production companies and networks in the U.S. and abroad . Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including - yes, it's true - Emmys, Writers Guild Awards, and the Humanitas Award.

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