bias

1 of 4

noun

bi·​as ˈbī-əs How to pronounce bias (audio)
1
a
: an inclination of temperament or outlook
especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment : prejudice
b
: an instance of such prejudice
c
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
3
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
4
a
: 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

bias

2 of 4

verb

biased or biassed; biasing or biassing

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)

bias

3 of 4

adjective

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

bias

4 of 4

adverb

1
: diagonally
cut cloth bias
2
obsolete : awry
Phrases
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

Did you know?

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

Noun

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

Verb

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?

Example Sentences

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Aldrich has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder and another five counts of allegedly committing those crimes as part of a bias attack. David K. Li, NBC News, 23 Nov. 2022 The letters additionally refer to the 2020 investigation into concerns of racial bias on the team. Courtney Tanner, The Salt Lake Tribune, 22 Nov. 2022 This groundwork was laid and intentionally passed on by way of belief and bias to educators at all levels through textbooks and teacher preparation. Cecilia Robinson-woods, Washington Post, 22 Nov. 2022 Three years ago, California legislators and Gov. Gavin Newsom hailed the passage of a new police use-of-force law, calling it one of the strongest measures in the country to combat racial bias in police shootings. Dustin Gardiner, San Francisco Chronicle, 22 Nov. 2022 Blacknell previously said the office decided to dismiss the case against Yu due to concerns about the pace of the investigation and potential bias in the presentation of evidence. James Queally, Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov. 2022 And while that kind of thinking may not yet be the norm, some younger players in the A.I. space have made an effort to address and remedy racial bias from the start. Gabby Shacknai, Fortune, 22 Nov. 2022 The bias is even stronger this year: Of the $93 billion that investors have added to U.S. or international equity funds, more than 90% has gone to those holding U.S. stocks. Eric Wallerstein, WSJ, 21 Nov. 2022 This fall, the department also mandated a 90-minute supplemental training about unconscious bias administered by Milwaukee Municipal Court Judge Derek Mosley, who will be moving to Marquette Law School in the new year. Elliot Hughes, Journal Sentinel, 21 Nov. 2022
Verb
In theory, that could bias Fed officials toward slowing their aggressive rate increases at future meetings. Matt Grossman, WSJ, 2 Nov. 2022 Some spider experts think that arthropods have been underestimated thanks to bias towards big-brained animals. WIRED, 31 Oct. 2022 The defense had urged Wilcox to move the trial, arguing that county residents being so heavily affected by Smithfield’s departure may bias jurors against Hsiung and Picklesimer. Leto Sapunar, The Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Oct. 2022 Defense attorneys asked Wilcox last week to move the trial, arguing that county residents being so heavily affected by Smithfield’s departure may bias jurors against Hsiung and Picklesimer. Leto Sapunar, The Salt Lake Tribune, 29 Aug. 2022 Prieto filed a motion requesting that discovery in the case be sealed, arguing that the release of the elevator footage showed the prosecution was trying to bias the public against Clenney. Andrea Marks, Rolling Stone, 31 Aug. 2022 Audi has programmed quattro to bias torque towards the front axle (COMFORT) or a balanced front/rear split (AUTO). Michael Harley, Forbes, 2 June 2022 Bannon's defense attorney David Schoen argued that the recent release of audio by Mother Jones could bias prospective jurors. Robert Legare, CBS News, 18 July 2022 But this can bias your decision-making from one that has a successful end in mind to a hypothetical catastrophe, which might be based on unfounded proof. Amiee Ball, Forbes, 13 May 2022
Adjective
The school’s subsequent attempts to educate the community on Islamophobia with fact sheets and anti-bias training were seen by Herman as defaming her by tacitly endorsing the allegations, according to the lawsuit. Jalen Brown, CNN, 24 Oct. 2022 The commission's recommendations included ensuring robust anti-bias training, prohibiting fired officers from working again in law enforcement agencies, and revising local policies on using force. John Hanna, ajc, 6 Oct. 2022 The commission has the power to levy civil penalties of up to $250,000 and require businesses or people to take other actions, including mandating anti-bias training for managers and employees, according to its website. Matt Lavietes, NBC News, 30 Sep. 2022 Continuing its world premiere, this play follows a training company attempting to get a contract for the Cleveland Police Department’s de-escalation and anti-bias training. Joey Morona, cleveland, 14 Sep. 2022 Elam also promised to convene a series of campus forums and anti-bias workshops. Jeong Park Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 10 Feb. 2022 For its award, Harding Middle School is eligible to receive anti-bias education grant money. John Benson, cleveland, 8 Sep. 2022 Opponents charge that Loudoun, by holding things like anti-bias trainings for employees, will teach children of different races to hate one another and White children to hate themselves. Washington Post, 11 Aug. 2021 Some of the changes include anti-bias training and maintenance of an early intervention program for employees, with a focus on officers who have recent internal affairs investigations or use of force. Celina Tebor, USA TODAY, 9 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun, Verb, Adjective, and Adverb

Middle French biais

First Known Use

Noun

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb

1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1551, in the meaning defined above

Adverb

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.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bias. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

bias 1 of 2

noun

bi·​as ˈbī-əs How to pronounce bias (audio)
1
: a line diagonal to the grain of a fabric
2
: an attitude that always favors one way of feeling or acting over any other : prejudice
3
: a voltage applied to a device (as a transistor control electrode) to establish a reference level for operation

bias

2 of 2

verb

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

Legal Definition

bias

noun

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

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