I was driving south on the A1(M) today and I noticed that the traffic on the north side was stacking up a tad. Eager to know why, as I would be going back up the road a little later, I listened to the traffic news on the radio with bated breath. Apparently there was an 'incident' involving two cars. An 'incident'. A fucking 'INCIDENT'. What the fuck is an 'incident' between two cars? Has one of them 'attacked' the other? Has there been a sexual violation? A mugging perchance? When the fuck did accidents stop and incidents start? what's wrong with a good old fashioned accident. You just don't get them like you used to.
Maybe it's a ploy by the insurance companies to reduce the number of payouts. Maybe they pay less for an incident.
"Bated Breath": what's that all about then?
Well, the word bated, in this saying, is a contraction of abated through loss of the unstressed first vowel. It means “reduced, lessened, lowered in force”, so "bated breath" refers to a state in which you almost stop breathing as a result of some strong emotion, such as terror or awe. It's quite often incorrectly spelled as Baited Breath, but that is just wrong, as 'bated' and 'baited' obviously mean two totally different things, although they sound the same.
It's a bit like the joke, "did you hear about the new TV show to help fat people?" "Gym'll Fix It." It aint funny when it's written but at least it makes sense if you can see it. But if it is just TOLD to you, verbally, it doesn't even make sense. And it still aint funny.
Shakespeare is the first writer known to use it you know, in The Merchant of Venice. Shylock says to Antonio: “Shall I bend low and, in a bondman’s key, With bated breath and whisp’ring humbleness,".
Not the Gym/Jim thing, but the bated thing.
Talking of incorrect spelling and Jimmy Savile, that is normally spelled wrongly too. Savile. Often spelled Saville. As in Row, not row.