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bi·​as ˈbī-əs How to pronounce bias (audio)
: an inclination of temperament or outlook
especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment : prejudice
: an instance of such prejudice
: deviation of the expected value of a statistical estimate from the quantity it estimates
: systematic error introduced into sampling or testing by selecting or encouraging one outcome or answer over others
: 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
: a peculiarity in the shape of a bowl that causes it to swerve when rolled on the green in lawn bowling
: the tendency of a bowl to swerve
also : the impulse causing this tendency
: the swerve of the bowl
: a voltage applied to a device (such as a transistor control electrode) to establish a reference level for operation
: a high-frequency voltage combined with an audio signal to reduce distortion in tape recording


2 of 4


biased or biassed; biasing or biassing

transitive verb

: to give a settled and often prejudiced outlook to
his background biases him against foreigners
: to apply a slight negative or positive voltage to (something, such as a transistor)


3 of 4


: diagonal, slanting
used chiefly of fabrics and their cut
biasness noun


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: diagonally
cut cloth bias
obsolete : awry
on the bias
: diagonally to the grain of a fabric
cut the cloth on the bias
sleeves cut on the bias
: at an angle : diagonally to the fibers of something
cut the meat on the bias
carrots cut on the bias

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Bias vs. Biased

In recent years, we have seen more evidence of the adjectival bias in constructions like “a bias news program” instead of the more usual “a biased news program.” The reason is likely because of aural confusion: the -ed of biased may be filtered out by hearers, which means that bias and biased can sound similar in the context of normal speech. They are not interchangeable, however. The adjective that means “exhibited or characterized by an unreasoned judgment” is biased (“a biased news story”). There is an adjective bias, but it means “diagonal” and is used only of fabrics (“a bias cut across the fabric”).

Choose the Right Synonym for 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


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?

Examples of bias in a Sentence

Noun … 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
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
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
He showed a bias toward a few workers in particular. Do they have a bias against women? The company was accused of racial bias. The decision was made without bias. She showed no bias toward older clients. a student with a strong bias towards the arts Verb 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 Review, 24 Feb. 1980
I don't want to bias you against the movie, but I thought the book was much better. The circumstances could bias the results of the survey. Adverb made of fabric cut bias
Recent Examples on the Web
If society could somehow remove bias, would all problems go away? Mayank Kejriwal, Discover Magazine, 17 May 2024 As an example, one client may be working on developing a loan origination AI system, models that could create bias based on age, race, or gender and thus impact final loan decisions. John Kell, Fortune, 16 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for bias 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bias.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun, Verb, Adjective, and Adverb

Middle French biais

First Known Use


1530, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1551, in the meaning defined above


circa 1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bias was in 1530

Dictionary Entries Near bias

Cite this Entry

“Bias.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
bi·​as ˈbī-əs How to pronounce bias (audio)
: a line diagonal to the grain of a fabric
: an attitude that always favors one way of feeling or acting over any other : prejudice
: a voltage applied to a device (as a transistor control electrode) to establish a reference level for operation


2 of 2 verb
biased or biassed; biasing or biassing
: to give a prejudiced outlook to

Legal Definition


bi·​as ˈbī-əs How to pronounce bias (audio)
: a personal and often unreasoned judgment for or against one side in a dispute : prejudice
a judge disqualified because of bias

More from Merriam-Webster on bias

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