ba·​sis | \ ˈbā-səs How to pronounce basis (audio) \
plural bases\ ˈbā-​ˌsēz How to pronounce basis (audio) \

Definition of basis

1 : the bottom of something considered as its foundation
2 : the principal component of something Fruit juice constitutes the basis of jelly.
3a : something on which something else is established or based stories with little basis in reality no legal basis for a new trial still some basis for hope selected on the basis of test scores
b : an underlying condition or state of affairs hired on a trial basis He is on a first-name basis with his customers.
c : a fixed pattern or system meets with us on a regular basis [=regularly] The department sends reports on a daily basis. [=every day]
4 : the basic principle concepts that form the basis of the country's economic policies
5 mathematics : a set of linearly independent vectors (see vector entry 1 sense 1a) in a vector space such that any vector in the vector space can be expressed as a linear combination of them with appropriately chosen coefficients (see coefficient sense 1)

Examples of basis in a Sentence

The company does not hire employees on the basis of their race, sex, age, or religion. the sole basis for the rumor is someone's overactive imagination
Recent Examples on the Web That would happen on a shift-by-shift basis as needed. Alison Dirr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11 Jan. 2022 Highly selective, the program provides a unique experience in Indiana state government by placing fellows in various state agencies on a rotating basis throughout the year. Post-tribune Staff,, 11 Jan. 2022 An effective legal system would ensure the guilty face the consequences for their crimes on a more consistent basis. Jemar Tisby, CNN, 10 Jan. 2022 Decisions on bringing people back in person would be largely made on a regional basis, Chief Executive Brian Moynihan said in an interview. Chip Cutter, WSJ, 10 Jan. 2022 After the final participant passes the finish line, streets will start reopening on a rolling basis. Kimi Robinson, The Arizona Republic, 10 Jan. 2022 The bill, sponsored by Council President Nick Mosby, requires Baltimore officials to provide reports to the council on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis about how the city’s $641 million allocation in federal coronavirus funding is being spent. Emily Opilo,, 10 Jan. 2022 Castillo has been serving in this role on a temporary basis since August and began officially Dec. 26. Los Angeles Times, 10 Jan. 2022 Public schools in Atlanta and Detroit went completely virtual this week, while others, including in the Washington D.C. suburbs of Montgomery County, Md., and Philadelphia, are making decisions on a school-by-school or class-by-class basis. Abha Bhattarai, Anchorage Daily News, 9 Jan. 2022

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'basis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of basis

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for basis

Latin — more at base entry 1

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Time Traveler for basis

Time Traveler

The first known use of basis was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

14 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Basis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for basis



English Language Learners Definition of basis

: something (such as an idea or set of ideas) from which another thing develops or can develop
: a reason for doing something
: a fixed pattern or system for doing something


ba·​sis | \ ˈbā-səs How to pronounce basis (audio) \
plural bases\ -​ˌsēz \

Kids Definition of basis

: something on which another thing is based or established : foundation The story has its basis in fact.


ba·​sis | \ ˈbā-səs How to pronounce basis (audio) \
plural bases\ -​ˌsēz How to pronounce basis (audio) \

Medical Definition of basis

1 : any of various anatomical parts that function as a foundation


ba·​sis | \ ˈbā-səs How to pronounce basis (audio) \
plural bases\ -​ˌsēz How to pronounce basis (audio) \

Legal Definition of basis

1 : something (as a principle or reason) on which something else is established the court could not imagine any conceivable basis for the statute — see also rational basis
2 : a basic principle or method especially : the principle or method by which taxable income is calculated

Note: The Internal Revenue Code has set some limits on which method a taxpayer may use for figuring taxable income. For example, a corporation with gross receipts under $5,000,000 may be a cash-basis taxpayer.

accrual basis
: a method of accounting in which income and expenses are recorded in the period when they are earned or incurred regardless of when the payment is received or made

called also accrual method

cash basis
: a method of accounting in which income and expenses are recorded in the period when payment is received or made

called also cash method

3 : the value (as cost or fair market value) of an asset used in calculating capital gains or losses for income tax purposes
adjusted basis
: the basis of an asset increased or decreased to reflect changes in value (as through improvement or depreciation)
carryover basis \ ˈkar-​ē-​ˌō-​vər-​ \
: the basis of a donated or transferred asset that is equal to the basis of the asset when it was in the hands of the donor or transferor

Note: Carryover basis is generally applied to gifts and to transfers in trust.

cost basis
: the basis of an asset equal to the amount paid for the asset plus other acquisition costs
stepped-up basis \ ˈstept-​ˈəp-​ \
: the basis of inherited property equal to its market value at the decedent's date of death or to an alternate valuation
substituted basis
: the basis of property received in exchange for property of a like kind that is equal to the basis of the property given with adjustments for additional consideration received or gains and losses realized

More from Merriam-Webster on basis

Nglish: Translation of basis for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of basis for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about basis


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