What Does Based Mean in Slang?

Language is a curious thing that is ever-changing. Say that you are ‘literally having a heart attack’ to some people, for example, and they will want to rush you straight to A&E. Say it to a Gen Z-er, meanwhile, and they will understand that you’re talking metaphorically.

Whilst you would have an unquestionable right in wondering how on earth the word ‘literally’ can change its meaning considering it is the only word that explains something is literal, the reality is that language is constantly shifting and you need to shift with it or forever struggle to understand what on earth some people are talking about. Which brings us nearly to ‘based’.

Based – An Agreement

It is not uncommon to see the word ‘based’ used on social media platforms, but understanding what it is saying is something else entirely. If you’re a user of sites like Reddit, for example, then you might see someone reply to a post or a comment saying nothing other than ‘based’. It is a sign that the poster agrees with whatever comment they are replying to. Similarly, it can be used as a way of applauding the poster for being themselves. Someone who is being courageous or not caring what others think could be told that they are ‘based’. It is not uncommon in online political discourse, which is more used to people being fake.

When used in online political discourse, ‘based’ can be viewed as a short form of ‘based in fact’. Those on the right often think that there is some grand conspiracy taking place, so there was a need for them to reassure one another that they believed what they were saying was the truth. It can also mean the opposite of biased, which comes from the fact that those who first saw it being used assumed it was related to the phrase ‘destroyed with facts and logic’, as popularised by the right-wing personality Ben Shapiro. The meta-ironic nature of its use is down to 4Chan claiming everything it a joke whilst also evidentially radicalising people who used the site.

Where Did It Come From?

Lil B
Lil B (taffy dale, Wikipedia)

Knowing what it means is one thing, but knowing where ‘based’ as a slang term came from is something else entirely. It was coined by Lil B, the rapper, who used it to mean the opposite of biased. The word took off on the website 4Chan, with the meta nature of that site meaning that the word is most often used in a meta-ironic manner. Obviously the problem with that is that you can’t necessarily tell if it’s being used genuinely or ironically unless you have the context for its usage. It was initially used predominantly by the political right and conservatives before it was eventually adopted into the mainstream.

Occasionally a Typo

To add even further confusion to the matter, as well as trying to figure out whether the poster of the word ‘based’ is being sincere or ironic, you also need to figure out if they’re really just trying to say ‘biased’ but have mis-typed the word. On a number of occasions, it is entirely possible that the person typing it thinks that the comment that they’re replying to is biased, but because they don’t know how to spell the word, and possibly will have seen ‘based’ written numerous times’ they will type out ‘based’ when what they actually mean is that they think the common is actually showing some bias.

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