c. 1300, "to alleviate, allay;" mid-14c., "suppress, do away with;" late 14c., "to reduce; to cease," a shortening of abate (q.v.). Now only in phrase bated breath (subdued or shortened breathing, from fear, passion, awe, etc.), which was used by Shakespeare in "The Merchant of Venice" (1596).
c. 1300, "to contend with blows or arguments," from Old French batre "to hit, beat, strike" (11c., Modern French battre), from Late Latin battere, from Latin batuere "to beat, knock" (see batter (v.)). In falconry, "to beat the wings impatiently and flutter away from the perch." Figurative sense of "to flutter downward" attested from 1580s.
updated on April 17, 2017