based (slang)

By Deane Barker tags: slang

A slang word that’s very nebulous. It’s been defined, then co-opted by others. When used, you have to look at context, because different people use it to mean very different things.

In today’s general slang environment, “based” means to be true to yourself and not care what other people think. However, the alt-right has claimed the word to mean someone who is immune to Left-wing bias and “woke-ness.”

Consequently, some people consider the word to be derogatory, and would use “based” ironically to describe someone they considered to be intolerant or bigoted.

An article called How “Based” Became the Alt-Right’s New Favorite Piece of Black Slang provided this history of the term:

Oakland-based rapper Lil B the Based God first popularized the term with the 2007 debut album of his group Based Boys. Three years later, Lil B told Complex all about what “based” means to him. “Based means being yourself. Not being scared of what people think about you. Not being afraid to do what you wanna do. Being positive,” he explained. “When I was younger, based was a negative term that meant like dopehead, or basehead. People used to make fun of me. They was like, ‘You’re based.' They’d use it as a negative. And what I did was turn that negative into a positive.”

Why I Looked It Up

It’s something I had heard for years, but didn’t really know what it meant. And now I know why – I had been seeing usage of it from both sides of the cultural and political divides, being used to mean opposite things.

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