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noun bi·as \ˈbī-əs\

Simple Definition of bias

  • : a tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others that usually results in treating some people unfairly

  • : a strong interest in something or ability to do something

Full Definition of bias

  1. 1 :  a line diagonal to the grain of a fabric; especially :  a line at a 45 degree angle to the selvage often utilized in the cutting of garments for smoother fit

  2. 2 a :  a peculiarity in the shape of a bowl that causes it to swerve when rolled on the green in lawn bowling b :  the tendency of a bowl to swerve; also :  the impulse causing this tendency c :  the swerve of the bowl

  3. 3 a :  bent, tendency b :  an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially :  a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment :  prejudice c :  an instance of such prejudice d (1) :  deviation of the expected value of a statistical estimate from the quantity it estimates (2) :  systematic error introduced into sampling or testing by selecting or encouraging one outcome or answer over others

  4. 4 a :  a voltage applied to a device (as a transistor control electrode) to establish a reference level for operation b :  a high-frequency voltage combined with an audio signal to reduce distortion in tape recording

on the bias

Examples of bias

  1. … members of the opinion media will cherry-pick moments from the debate that support their own ideological biases. —Michelle Cottle, New Republic, 16 Oct. 2000

  2. Blatant racial and gender discrimination is just about over, creating a sociological space in which to worry about subtler forms of bias. —Gregg Easterbrook, New Republic, 20 Dec. 1999

  3. Like the printing press before it, the computer has a powerful bias toward amplifying personal autonomy and individual problem-solving. —Katha Pollitt, Nation, 9 Oct. 1995

  4. He showed a bias toward a few workers in particular.

  5. Do they have a bias against women?

  6. The company was accused of racial bias.

  7. The decision was made without bias.

  8. She showed no bias toward older clients.

  9. a student with a strong bias towards the arts

Origin of bias

Middle French biais

First Known Use: 1530

Synonym Discussion of bias

predilection, prepossession, prejudice, bias mean an attitude of mind that predisposes one to favor something. predilection implies a strong liking deriving from one's temperament or experience <a predilection for travel>. prepossession suggests a fixed conception likely to preclude objective judgment of anything counter to it <a prepossession against technology>. prejudice usually implies an unfavorable prepossession and connotes a feeling rooted in suspicion, fear, or intolerance <a mindless prejudice against the unfamiliar>. bias implies an unreasoned and unfair distortion of judgment in favor of or against a person or thing <a strong bias toward the plaintiff>.

Rhymes with bias



adjective bi·as \ˈbī-əs\

Definition of bias

  1. :  diagonal, slanting —used chiefly of fabrics and their cut

bi·as·ness noun

Origin of bias

(see 1bias)

First Known Use: 1551

Other Textiles Terms



adverb bi·as \ˈbī-əs\

Definition of bias

  1. 1 :  diagonally <cut cloth bias>

  2. 2 obsolete :  awry

Examples of bias

  1. <made of fabric cut bias>

Origin of bias

(see 1bias)

First Known Use: 1575



verb bi·as \ˈbī-əs\

Simple Definition of bias

  • : to have a strong and often unfair influence on (someone or something)

Full Definition of bias

bi·ased or bi·assedbi·as·ing or bi·as·sing

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to give a settled and often prejudiced outlook to <his background biases him against foreigners>

  3. 2 :  to apply a slight negative or positive voltage to (as a transistor)

Examples of bias

  1. Unfortunately, his convictions are not clearly and logically developed; they mostly lurk in the background biasing his reporting. He does not always give the reader a fair chance to follow the arguments of the actors—even those with whom he ardently agrees. —Leonard Silk, New York Times Book Review24 Feb. 1980

  2. I don't want to bias you against the movie, but I thought the book was much better.

  3. The circumstances could bias the results of the survey.

Origin of bias

(see 1bias)

First Known Use: circa 1628

Synonym Discussion of bias

incline, bias, dispose, predispose mean to influence one to have or take an attitude toward something. incline implies a tendency to favor one of two or more actions or conclusions <I incline to agree>. bias suggests a settled and predictable leaning in one direction and connotes unfair prejudice <the experience biased him against foreigners>. dispose suggests an affecting of one's mood or temper so as to incline one toward something <her nature disposes her to trust others>. predispose implies the operation of a disposing influence well in advance of the opportunity to manifest itself <does fictional violence predispose them to accept real violence?>.


geographical name bi·as

Definition of Bias

  1. — see beas

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up bias? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

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