It seems like every time you scroll through social media, there’s a new meme or phrase to catch onto ASAP, lest you become exiled from online discourse. Internet slang terms come and go like the seasons, but some remain relevant for years. One of those terms is “based.”
In short, being “based” means staying true to yourself and not letting other people’s opinions shape your personality—even if those opinions are fashionable at the time.
However, as with all internet lingo, the word-based has been co-opted for what some may call nefarious reasons. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s do a deeper dive into what based actually means, how the term originated, and whether you can use it on social media without getting any backlash.
What Does “Based” Mean?
In the context of internet discourse, calling someone “based” basically means the person is courageous, original, and unaffected by common culture. They won’t change their style, opinions, or values—no matter how unpopular they may be.
You can think of a “based” person along the same lines as being “a real one.”
In addition to being used as an adjective, “based” can also be used as an affirmative statement to show agreement. For example, if you saw a tweet that said “Toilet paper is for suckers,” you could simply reply “based.”
It’s similar to saying “facts” or “straight-up” after hearing something you agree with.
Where Did the Term “Based” Come From?
The term “based” dates back more than a decade when Lil B started using it on social media. In a 2010 interview with Complex, the Bay Area native explained that “based” didn’t always have a positive connotation—far from it.
“When I was younger, based was a negative term that meant like dopehead, or basehead,” he said. “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. I started embracing it like, ‘Yeah, I'm based.’ I made it mine.”
In 2007, Lil B’s rap group, The Pack, released their first album called Based Boys. This initiated a cult following around the based lifestyle and eventually spawned Lil B’s nickname “The BasedGod.”
Over the following years, based evolved into its present vernacular, which is a form of endearment and respect in the eyes of Lil B.
“Based means being yourself,” he told Complex. “Not being scared of what people think about you. Not being afraid to do what you wanna do. Based is positive.”
However, based can have a different connotation in darker corners of the web.
Other Applications of “Based”
If you venture into shitposting subreddits or websites like 4chan, you’ll likely see the word “based” applied differently than on Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok.
For instance, “based” is one-half of the “based and redpilled” meme, which originated on 4chan in 2013. This is meant to signify that someone or something is the “opposite of cringe.” It’s used both seriously and ironically.
“Based and redpilled” is frequently used to praise controversial political opinions or figures. But as KnowYourMeme points out, the phrase “based and redpilled” has strong ties to extremist, racist, and incel groups, particularly on 4chan’s /pol/ board.
When it comes to political discourse, “based” can also function as the opposite of biased or shorthand for “based in fact.” In this context, based shares a similar sentiment as the terms “owned” or “ratio’d.”
As you can see, the true meaning of “based” has been diluted and appropriated, almost to the point of obscurity. You might be wondering, then, if you’re in the clear say “based” without people thinking you’re a basement-dwelling whacko.
Unlike other controversial internet slang terms like “soy boy” or “simp,” this one has innocent origins. That said, it’s been tainted by some less-than-desirable characters online, so proceed with caution.
Toilet Paper Companies Definitely Aren’t Based
Internet vernacular can be as confusing as molecular biology. But if we take the original definition of “based” (the one that Lil B built his brand around) one thing is certain: profiting off injuring millions of buttholes and not being held accountable is definitely not based.
We’re looking at you, toilet paper companies.
That’s why based dudes like Dave Portnoy, Hasbulla, and Harry Higgs have turned their back on TP and embraced the fresh life with DUDE Products. From soothing flushable wipes to the idiot-proof DUDE Wiper 1000 bidet attachment, we’ve got the goods to keep your privates poopless.