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[bahy-uh s] /ˈbaɪ əs/
a particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned: illegal bias against older job applicants; the magazine’s bias toward art rather than photography;
our strong bias in favor of the idea.
unreasonably hostile feelings or opinions about a social group; prejudice:
accusations of racial bias.
an oblique or diagonal line of direction, especially across a woven fabric.
Statistics. a systematic as opposed to a random distortion of a statistic as a result of sampling procedure.
Lawn Bowling.
  1. a slight bulge or greater weight on one side of the ball or bowl.
  2. the curved course made by such a ball when rolled.
Electronics. the application of a steady voltage or current to an active device, as a diode or transistor, to produce a desired mode of operation.
a high-frequency alternating current applied to the recording head of a tape recorder during recording in order to reduce distortion.
cut, set, folded, etc., diagonally:
This material requires a bias cut.
in a diagonal manner; obliquely; slantingly:
to cut material bias.
verb (used with object), biased, biasing or (especially British) biassed, biassing.
to cause to hold or exhibit a particular bias; to influence, especially unfairly: a tearful plea designed to bias the jury;
a survey biased toward highly educated people.
Electronics. to apply a steady voltage or current to (the input of an active device).
on the bias,
  1. in the diagonal direction of the cloth.
  2. out of line; slanting.
Origin of bias
1520-30; < Middle French biais oblique < Old Provençal, probably < Vulgar Latin *(e)bigassius < Greek epikársios oblique, equivalent to epi- epi- + -karsios oblique
Related forms
subbias, noun
superbias, noun
1. predisposition, preconception, predilection, partiality, proclivity; bent, leaning. 10. predispose, bend, incline, dispose.
1. impartiality.
Synonym Study
1. Bias, prejudice mean a strong inclination of the mind or a preconceived opinion about something or someone. A bias may be favorable or unfavorable: bias in favor of or against an idea. Prejudice implies a preformed judgment even more unreasoning than bias, and usually implies an unfavorable opinion: prejudice against people of another religion. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for biases
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British Dictionary definitions for biases


mental tendency or inclination, esp an irrational preference or prejudice
a diagonal line or cut across the weave of a fabric
(electronics) the voltage applied to an electronic device or system to establish suitable working conditions
  1. a bulge or weight inside one side of a bowl
  2. the curved course of such a bowl on the green
  1. an extraneous latent influence on, unrecognized conflated variable in, or selectivity in a sample which influences its distribution and so renders it unable to reflect the desired population parameters
  2. if T is an estimator of the parameter θ, the expected value of (T–θ)
an inaudible high-frequency signal used to improve the quality of a tape recording
slanting obliquely; diagonal: a bias fold
obliquely; diagonally
verb (transitive) -ases, -asing, -ased, -asses, -assing, -assed
(usually passive) to cause to have a bias; prejudice; influence
Derived Forms
biased, biassed, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Old French biais, from Old Provençal, perhaps ultimately from Greek epikarsios oblique
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for biases



1520s, from French biais "slant, slope, oblique," also figuratively, "expedient, means" (13c., originally in Old French a past participle adjective, "sideways, askance, against the grain"), of unknown origin, probably from Old Provençal biais, with cognates in Old Catalan and Sardinian; possibly from Vulgar Latin *(e)bigassius, from Greek epikarsios "athwart, crosswise, at an angle," from epi- "upon" + karsios "oblique," from PIE *krs-yo-, from root *(s)ker- "to cut." It became a noun in Old French. "[A] technical term in the game of bowls, whence come all the later uses of the word" [OED]. Transferred sense of "predisposition, prejudice" is from 1570s in English.

For what a man had rather were true he more readily believes. Therefore he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things, because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride, lest his mind should seem to be occupied with things mean and transitory; things not commonly believed, out of deference to the opinion of the vulgar. Numberless in short are the ways, and sometimes imperceptible, in which the affections colour and infect the understanding. [Francis Bacon, "Novum Organum," 1620]



1620s, literal and figurative, from bias (n.). Related: Biased; biasing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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