Based is a term of admiration that is commonly used to describe a person who is enlightened, self-assured, and is not afraid to express their opinion, particularly an unpopular one.
Some internet slang words and phrases remain the same for many years, while others change and evolve as different groups pick them up. Based and its meaning definitely fall into the second category.
enlightened and free thinker
In internet jargon, a “based” person or opinion is one who is confident, free-thinking, and uninfluenced by the opinion of others. It is most commonly used in a positive sense, for example, “I love that boy, he’s so grounded!” It can be used ironically and non-ironically and has different connotations depending on who is using it.
Based, as a general slang word, originated in the recreational drug culture of the 1980s. It was used to describe someone who used crack and is derived from freebasing, a specific method of taking the drug. Someone who was “Based” or a “Basehead” was a person addicted to crack.
Over time, base came to be used to describe someone who acted strangely or eccentrically, even if they weren’t under the influence of drugs. This definition stuck until the early 2000s.
Lil B and what it means to be based
Since around 2007, largely due to the influence of West Coast rapper Lil B, the definition of “based” evolved once more. While regularly described as quirky and unique, Lil B contributed to an album called boys based. When asked what he meant based on the title, she was quoted as saying:
“Based means being yourself. Don’t be afraid of what people think of you. Don’t be afraid to do what you want to do. Being positive.”
He then began calling himself the “God Based” online, leading to his own initialism, TYBG or “Thank God Based”, which is used among his fanbase. Without a doubt, Lil B’s use of social media to promote himself and his music helped propagate the more positive definition of Internet Based.
The term has been used more recently in political debates to describe someone who publicly supports their political leanings. Figures in that space are routinely labeled “Based” by their online supporters.
Based on what?
Based has spawned several memes. These not only use his now commonly accepted definition and Lil B’s “God-Based Thank God” but also criticize the jargon misinterpretation.
The best known of these is “Based? Based on what?” which reflects the almost fluid definition of the term. This meme often depicts someone looking confused, like Joe Pesci, with the words superimposed on the image. This meme within a meme is just the latest of the strange turns that the evolution of the bases has taken in the last 30 years.
How to use based
Based is commonly written as part of a standard sentence. It can also be included as a hashtag to tag a comment. It can even be used on its own, as a response to an illustrated comment that you agree with.
Here are some examples of how it can be written based:
- “This guy is telling the truth #Based”
- “Yeah, I know what you mean, she’s based”
- Grilled cheese is the best food in the world! #based”