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1. To give up on something. Taken from the phrase "fish or cut bait," meaning to either work productively or else stand aside. After three years of hating medical school, Sean decided it was time to cut bait and try something different.
2. Literally, to cut fish into small pieces to be used as bait. These days, bait is mostly processed in a factory, but I still like to cut bait myself when I'm out fishing.
1. slang A person swimming or surfing alone in the ocean. We sat on the beach with our drinks, watching the foolish shark bait going into the water alone for an evening swim.
2. (Hawaii slang) A very pale beachgoer, especially a tourist. (Supposedly because pale skin is attractive to sharks.) We don't hang out in this part of town too often in the summer, as it gets overwhelmed with shark bait this time of year.
3. A particularly naïve or gullible person who is an ideal target for a scam, graft, or con. He'd been in the game of scamming people for so long that he could spot shark bait from a mile away. Don't you dare wear that fanny pack out in town. We'll look like shark bait to the locals!
Someone who is attractive but younger than the legal age of consent. I'd stay away from jailbait like her unless you want to spend your future days in a cell!
bait and switch
1. A deceptive sales practice in which a store attracts customers by advertising low prices for products that are not available or are of poor quality, so that customers buy more expensive items instead. A: "Why did you buy such an expensive blender? What happened to the one that was on sale?" B: "That one is sold out and won't be available for months—the store pulled a real bait and switch."
2. Any deceptive practice in which the information initially presented is found to be untrue. I thought my favorite band was playing at this club tonight, but it turned out to be a bait and switch—it's just a cover band.
Online articles (especially on social media sites) that use provocative or intriguing headlines (often in combination with images) to drive traffic to the source. I wouldn't put too much faith in that article about "the one food no one should ever eat"—it's probably just clickbait.
Someone or something that is near death, often an animal. That old horse can barely walk around the farm these days—he's just crow bait now.
swallow the bait
To respond to someone's actions or words in the way that they intended. Likened to a fish attempting to eat the bait on a hook. That's just what he wants you to do. Don't swallow the bait. The undercover officer changed the conversation to the recent burglary, hoping the thief would swallow the bait and confess.
take the bait
To respond to someone's actions or words in the way that they intended. Likened to a fish attempting to eat the bait on a hook. That's just what he wants you to do. Don't take the bait. The undercover officer changed the conversation to the recent burglary, hoping the thief would take the bait and confess.
bait and switch
Fig. a deceptive merchandising practice where one product is advertised at a low price to get people's attention [the bait], but pressure is applied to get the customer to purchase a more expensive item. Walter described how the store used bait and switch, since they never seemed to have in stock the bargains that they advertised. Wilbur accused the merchant of bait and switch practices and stalked out of the store.
Rur. someone or an animal that is likely to die; a useless animal or person. That old dog used to hunt good, but now he's just crow bait.
Fish or cut bait.
Fig. Do something or get out of the way. Fish or cut bait, Chuck. There's work to be done here. Decide whether you're going to watch or help. Fish or cut bait.
jump at someone or something
to jump in the direction of someone or something. The frog jumped at me, but I dodged it. The cat jumped at the leaf as it fell from the tree.
jump at something
Fig. to seize the opportunity to do something. (See also leap at the opportunity (to do something).) When I heard about John's chance to go to England, I knew he'd jump at it. If something you really want to do comes your way, jump at it.
rise to the bait
Fig. to respond to an allurement; to fall for an enticement or fall into a trap. (Alludes to a fish coming up from deep water to seize bait.) You can get him here easily. Tell him that there will be lots of food and he will rise to the bait. He rose to the bait and did just as he was expected to do.
bait and switch
A deceptive commercial practice in which customers are induced to visit a store by an advertised sale item and then are told that it is out of stock or that it is far inferior to some more expensive item. For example, I won't buy a car from this outfit; they're notorious for their bait and switch tactics. The verb to bait has meant to supply a hook or trap with a morsel of food so as to attract a fish or animal since about 1300; the verb to switch has meant to change, alter, or transfer from one thing to another since the 1890s. The pairing of the two, however, dates only from the 1920s, although the practice is surely much older. It is called switch-selling in Britain.
fish or cut bait
Either proceed with an activity or abandon it completely. For example, You've been putting off calling him for hours; either fish or cut bait. This expression, often uttered as an imperative, alludes to a fisherman who should either be actively trying to catch fish or cutting up bait for others to use. It was first recorded in the Congressional Record (1876), when Congressman Joseph P. Cannon called for a vote on a bill legalizing the silver dollar: "I want you gentlemen on the other side of the House to 'fish or cut bait.'" A vulgar synonym from the 1940s is shit or get off the pot.
Also, jump at the chance; jump at the bait. Take prompt advantage of, respond quickly to an opportunity. For example, When Dad said he'd help pay for my vacation, I jumped at the offer, or When the lead singer became ill, Sheila jumped at the chance to replace her, or They offered a large reward, hoping that someone would jump at the bait. [Mid-1700s]
rise to the bait
Be tempted by or react to an enticement, as in We told him there'd be lots of single young women at the party, and he rose to the bait . Likening a fish rising to bait to human behavior dates from the late 1500s.
bait and switchAMERICAN
Bait and switch is a method of attracting customers by making a good offer, but then the customer is sold something of lower quality. The live performances were not shown often, and no doubt some viewers considered it a bait and switch. The bar really sells 11 dishes for the advertised price at lunch. There's no bait and switch here.
fish or cut baitAMERICAN
If you tell someone to fish or cut bait, you mean they should stop wasting time and make a decision to do something. Morale was low after seven weeks without progress — the time had come to fish or cut bait. Note: The literal meaning behind this expression seems to be that it is time for someone to make a definite decision either to start fishing, or else to prepare the bait so that other people can fish.
rise to the baitor
take the bait
If you rise to the bait or take the bait, you react to something that someone has said or done in exactly the way that they wanted you to react. Adrina tried to provoke me, but I refused to rise to the bait. Julia told him that she had fallen off a horse as a child and lost her confidence. Hewitt immediately took the bait, offering to teach her to ride. Note: In fly-fishing, the fish rise to the surface of the water to take the bait, and so they get caught.
1. To leap or bound toward someone or something: The security guard jumped at the attacker.
2. To take advantage of something enthusiastically, as an opportunity; respond quickly to something: We jumped at the chance to invest in the project.
3. To make a sudden verbal attack on someone; lash out at someone: The students jumped at the speaker during the lecture.
Fish or cut bait
sent. Do something or get out of the way. Decide whether you’re going to watch or help. Fish or cut bait.
To abandon an activity or enterprise.
fish or cut baitInformal
To proceed with an activity or abandon it altogether.
get your bait back
Just about recoup your expenditure. An old New England fisherman's expression for barely making expenses. Some who caught just enough fish to sell to compensate for the day's expenses was said to have gotten his bait back.
fish or cut bait
Do it or leave. The entire expression was “fish or cut bait or go ashore,” a commercial fishing industry warning that if you weren't hauling in a catch, you'd better find something more useful to do, such as cutting baitfish into pieces. And if you couldn't do that, you were just taking up space and you'd be fired. A similar expression that's still in use is the non-gender specific “pee or get off the pot” (or in slightly less genteel surroundings, “shit or get off the pot”).