bi·​as | \ ˈbī-əs How to pronounce bias (audio) \

Definition of bias

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : an inclination of temperament or outlook especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment : prejudice
b : 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
2 : 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
3a : 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
4a : a voltage applied to a device (such 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
1 : diagonally to the grain of a fabric cut the cloth on the bias sleeves cut on the bias
2 : at an angle : diagonally to the fibers of something cut the meat on the bias carrots cut on the bias


biased or biassed; biasing or biassing

Definition of bias (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

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

Definition of bias (Entry 3 of 4)

: diagonal, slanting used chiefly of fabrics and their cut



Definition of bias (Entry 4 of 4)

1 : diagonally cut cloth bias
2 obsolete : awry

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Other Words from bias


biasness noun

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?

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”).

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Many employers now require their employees to take courses aimed at making them aware of unconscious bias. Monika Schmid, Quartz at Work, "Accent prejudice is costing people the jobs they deserve," 7 Nov. 2019 The judges also ruled that Polster’s belief that settlement is the best option is not evidence of bias, and that judges in complex litigation are encouraged to try to facilitate settlements early on. Eric Heisig, cleveland, "Drug companies fail to persuade appeals court that Cleveland federal judge should step down from opioid litigation," 10 Oct. 2019 And Corkran can’t help feeling that unconscious bias is what prevents people from choosing a female attorney to argue their high court matters. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Belva Lockwood is the most badass American hero you don’t know," 5 Oct. 2019 Overall, Mueller was rather blasé to both Democrats and Republicans in that morning hearing until he was challenged by one of his fellow Republicans on the committee over accusations of bias. Michael Arceneaux, Essence, "Opinion: Will Nancy Pelosi Finally Do Something About Donald Trump’s Abuse Of Power?," 25 July 2019 But reports from New York City’s Department of Investigation have found that years after these changes, and as arrests and crime in the city fall, the NYPD still deals with complaints of excessive use of force, and many more of racial bias. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "“Do something”: why Bill de Blasio is facing criticism for the Eric Garner case," 18 July 2019 Another pernicious mantra on the left is that loan disparities between blacks and whites are evidence of bias. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "Democrats May Inflate Another Housing Bubble," 9 July 2019 An outside agency is conducting an independent inquiry into whether police have exhibited bias in their handling of Proud Boy and Patriot Prayer protesters versus left-wing counterdemonstrators., "Bloody clashes in downtown Portland put police, mayor on defensive," 1 July 2019 Junqueira says of her approach to overcoming bias in fundraising as a woman. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Brazilians Hate Their Banks. This $10 Billion Startup Wants to Change That," 17 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In their responses to Blumenthal, both Uber and Lyft said fingerprinting may bias against minorities who are more likely to be arrested but not necessarily convicted. Greg Bensinger,, "Sen. Blumenthal calls on Uber, Lyft to share data on risky drivers, implement fingerprinting," 8 Nov. 2019 Under fire for her record on prosecuting hate crimes, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia refused to appear at a D.C. Council committee hearing Wednesday to discuss her performance, saying the hearing would be biased. Washington Post, "D.C. lawmakers slam U.S. attorney for skipping hate crimes hearing," 23 Oct. 2019 None of this is to say Judge Sheppard is biased against the NFL. Michael Mccann,, "Roger Goodell Under Oath: No-Call Lawsuit Means Deposition for Commissioner," 30 July 2019 Republicans have said the department, then led by Obama administration officials, was biased against Trump. Mary Clare Jalonick,, "Is that it after the Mueller hearing? No, lawsuits, investigations and more are still on the way.," 25 July 2019 Republicans have said the department, then led by Obama administration officials, was biased against Trump. Mary Clare Jalonick, Fortune, "What Comes After Mueller Testimony? Investigations and Lawsuits," 25 July 2019 Sarepta and Vertex executives say the institute’s pricing model is biased against drugs for deadly rare diseases, the focus of their businesses. Jonathan Saltzman,, "Boston drug-pricing watchdog group is ‘mouse that roared’," 19 June 2019 For the past year, Republicans have accused platforms like Facebook of being biased against conservatives and taking down their content more frequently than that of Democrats. Makena Kelly, The Verge, "Beto O’Rourke seeks new limits on Section 230 as part of gun violence proposal," 16 Aug. 2019 Bacteria were more prevalent than eukaryotes and archaea, although this finding could be biased by the relative lack of eukaryotic sequences in public databases. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Ahh, summer—ramlibacter season," 14 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bias.' 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 bias


1530, in the meaning defined at sense 2


circa 1628, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1551, in the meaning defined above


1575, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for bias

Noun, Verb, Adjective, and Adverb

Middle French biais

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Statistics for bias

Last Updated

14 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for bias

The first known use of bias was in 1530

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More Definitions for bias


How to pronounce bias (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of bias

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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



English Language Learners Definition of bias (Entry 2 of 2)

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


bi·​as | \ ˈbī-əs How to pronounce bias (audio) \

Kids Definition of bias

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a seam, cut, or stitching running in a slant across cloth
2 : a favoring of some ideas or people over others : prejudice She has a bias against newcomers.


biased or biassed; biasing or biassing

Kids Definition of bias (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give a prejudiced outlook to Existing ideas may bias his observation of events.


bi·​as | \ ˈbī-əs How to pronounce bias (audio) \

Legal Definition of bias

: a personal and often unreasoned judgment for or against one side in a dispute : prejudice a judge disqualified because of bias

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More from Merriam-Webster on bias

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bias

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bias

Spanish Central: Translation of bias

Nglish: Translation of bias for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bias for Arabic Speakers

Comments on bias

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


concealed or difficult to comprehend

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