Definition of bias in English:



  • 1[mass noun] Inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair:

    ‘there was evidence of bias against black applicants’
    ‘the bias towards younger people in recruitment’
    • ‘Also, publication bias against studies that failed to show an effect might have limited our ability to identify features associated with ineffective systems.’
    • ‘This follows from the charges of, for example, bias in favour of panel members' departments and inconsistency across subject areas.’
    • ‘Thus, if a large country finds that the partnership with a small country is of value from an overall point of view, the large country will be willing to accept a certain power bias in favour of the small country.’
    • ‘In an article for today's paper, the government's transport adviser firmly rejects claims of an unfair bias in favour of London and the south-east.’
    • ‘There is a strong cultural bias against non-fiction.’
    • ‘Apart from its bias in favour of upstream states, it has little support in state practice and does not seem to represent international law.’
    • ‘The Government's race watchdog is investigating apparent racial bias against its own ethnic minority staff.’
    • ‘The vast majority of Senators I have served with do not have any bias or ethnic bias against people.’
    • ‘I do not live in either town, so have no personal bias in favour of moving traffic from one to another, either from a business or residential point of view.’
    • ‘He did this with good policies, hard work and persistence and in spite of media bias in favour of his opponent.’
    • ‘Has there been prejudice and bias against the applicant by both the judge at first instance and by the majority of the Full Court?’
    • ‘But I find it hard to believe accusations of bias against him.’
    • ‘The case was dealt with by case workers outside the county so that there could be no inference of bias in favour of one party.’
    • ‘Her supporters said she was unfairly singled out because of her celebrity and because of bias against female executives.’
    • ‘There should be no bias in favour of the money-earner and against the home-maker and the child-carer.’
    • ‘Their intended purpose is to attest to the integrity of the identification parade and also to remove the possibility of any bias against the suspect.’
    • ‘However, his own bias in favour of doctrinal studies hindered acceptance of his theories, and he died at too young an age to have had much impact.’
    • ‘Counsel for the applicant suggests that the Crown's behaviour fell short of that standard, and that it indicated bias in favour of the accused police officer.’
    • ‘I noted the officer's testimonial enthusiasm as an indication of bias in favour of the prosecution but do not find that his evidence should not be believed.’
    • ‘Publication bias in favour of aspirin also exists.’
    prejudice, partiality, partisanship, favouritism, unfairness, one-sidedness
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    1. 1.1 A concentration on or interest in one particular area or subject:
      ‘his work showed a discernible bias towards philosophy’
      • ‘There is a discernible bias to topics popular with the current generation of French and Russian mathematicians, who form the bulk of the authors.’
      • ‘The subject coverage is comprehensive, but with a strong bias towards the arts.’
      • ‘He is interested in the human bias towards particular scientific ideas, not on the scale of a particular concrete example as in our pictures above, but within an entire area of science.’
      • ‘The downturn in the technology sector has been unkind to those with a strong bias towards this area.’
      • ‘This role is predominantly office based working within a team and has an strong bias towards industrial computing.’
    2. 1.2 A systematic distortion of a statistical result due to a factor not allowed for in its derivation.
      • ‘We prefer a random partition that produces a point estimate with less bias than would result from a deterministic partition.’
      • ‘Consideration of potential confounders, measures to prevent bias, and appropriate statistical analysis were mostly lacking.’
      • ‘Furthermore, the statistical bias varies with the filling factor.’
      • ‘This suggests the existence of statistical bias in one or both of the partitions.’
      • ‘The minimisation of bias, the systematic deviation of results or inferences from truth, is a fundamental principle of medical research.’
  • 2A direction diagonal to the weave of a fabric:

    ‘a turquoise silk dress cut on the bias’
    • ‘A curvy girl might choose an A-line in a jersey or other stretch fabric, which will hug curves the right way, while dresses in silk or satin cut on the bias might accentuate problem areas because of the way they catch light.’
    • ‘‘We've gone for longer length skirts cut on the bias, mid calf and quite straight with a single vent at the back.’’
    • ‘As for other options, one of our most stylish friends says that she buys a beautiful designer dress for each pregnancy, and because it's cut on the bias, it lasts her the entire nine months.’
    • ‘What about the jacket facings - would they have to be cut on the bias or the grain?’
    • ‘A-line skirt or cut on the bias, what will work best for your shape?’
    • ‘The sheath of fibers was made by sewing into a tube a strip of organza cut on the bias.’
    • ‘The undercollar is traditionally cut on the bias in two pieces with a center back seam.’
    • ‘Garments cut on the bias appear softer and more fluid, have more stretch, and are more supple than those cut on the lengthwise or crosswise grain.’
    • ‘Then I trimmed that seam down to 1/4 ‘all around and finished it with a Hong Kong finish, using a sheer fabric cut on the bias.’’
    • ‘But the really brilliant part is that they're cut on the bias, which means they drape perfectly, hiding what you want to hide and accentuating what you want to show off.’
    • ‘Maybe look for skirts cut on the bias, A-line, anything to emphasize your waist as being small and skim over your hips.’
    • ‘Garment pieces cut on the bias should be pressed with the lengthwise grainline, to avoid stretching.’
    • ‘Fabrics cut on the bias hang nicely, swing and drape beautifully. However, they may also stretch.’
    • ‘Cut on the bias for a more comfortable fit, this is a perfect option for keeping cool on warmer nights.’
    • ‘Garments cut on the bias fit differently than garments cut on straight grain.’
    diagonal, cross, slant, oblique, angle
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  • 3(in bowls) the irregular shape given to one side of a bowl.

    • ‘Very easy to hold and with a predictable line it is a match for any modern bias bowl.’
    • ‘The same year that the shaping machine was invented - 1871 - the Company introduced the world's first testing table for bias of bowls.’
    • ‘The bowls are not quite round. They are shaved on one side which gives them the bias.’
    • ‘This model bowl has the Traditional bias which has stood the test of time wherever Lawn Bowls is played.’
    • ‘All bowls should have a bias that is not less than that of a Working Reference Bowl and should be imprinted with the registered World Bowls Stamp.’
    1. 3.1 The oblique course taken by a bowl as a result of its irregular shape.
      • ‘Heavy weight and Medium weight bowls run with the same bias.’
      • ‘Bowling indoors is a completely different experience from outdoors and requires different characteristics in the bowls used, the artificial surface being very much faster and more prone to bias.’
      • ‘Increased amounts of bias will reduce the maximum attainable speed. The top speed with maximum bias is approximately 55 mph!’
      • ‘At any rate, the shape of these stones is such that when delivered with a normal bowling action, they take bias; that is, they take a curved path, particularly when the initial speed begins to slow down.’
      • ‘Early tests conducted on a billiard table soon dispelled the ideas that bias is a myth in croquet. The noticeable 'draw' (lateral motion) on the fine green baize prompted a more careful examination with a view to ultimately testing on grass.’
  • 4Electronics
    A steady voltage, magnetic field, or other factor applied to a system or device to cause it to operate over a predetermined range.

    • ‘The experimental data suggest the opposite: increasing the applied voltage bias usually increases the duration of the current blockades.’
    • ‘Semiconductor amplifying circuit having improved bias circuit for supplying a bias voltage to an amplifying FET’
    • ‘At higher T, it takes less time for thermal fluctuations to induce rupture under an applied bias force.’
    • ‘So far we have demonstrated examples of channel asymmetry that was induced by the sign of the applied voltage bias.’
    • ‘Upon application of a voltage greater than the threshold bias of 2 to 3 V, a current flows.’


  • 1Cause to feel or show inclination or prejudice for or against someone or something:

    ‘readers said the paper was biased towards the Conservatives’
    ‘editors were biased against authors from provincial universities’
    • ‘Despite the name, you really don't have to explain why you think the judge is potentially biased against you.’
    • ‘For citizens, especially the poor, this gives confidence that the system will not be biased against them.’
    • ‘This has given rise to the view that the legal code is biased against women and the poor.’
    • ‘Examined from the learner's point of view, the standard approach is heavily biased against beginning students.’
    • ‘He argued that the existing law is biased against the householder in favour of the burglar.’
    • ‘Mick was adamant that the referee was totally biased against the player.’
    • ‘Questions are already being asked about whether the lead researcher was inherently biased against the drug.’
    • ‘Some of them might even be open to argument along these lines, but the overwhelming vast majority of them will be biased against your views.’
    • ‘Overall the minster will not be accused of being biased towards business after yesterday's performance.’
    • ‘I thought on more than one occasion that perhaps he was biased towards satisfying his own goals.’
    • ‘And that's lucky for all of us, and unlucky for people who are biased against us.’
    • ‘I am not biased against the authority as the writer offensively suggests, nor am I politically-motivated.’
    • ‘He said the legislation was biased against the poor, who lived close together.’
    • ‘Landlords say the Residential Tenancy Act is biased against them and they run websites naming bad tenants and their sins.’
    • ‘Should such a system be introduced here, she suggests, it should be biased towards the least-skilled.’
    • ‘First, technological change has been biased towards higher skilled workers.’
    • ‘She was traumatised when her doctoral thesis was failed outright, apparently because one examiner was biased against her.’
    • ‘What makes him really angry is the way he says the system is biased against him because he is a man.’
    • ‘I am biased towards mountain biking because I believe that the training effect is better.’
    • ‘Patients have often complained that relevant health bureaux are biased towards hospitals, as both are part of the same system.’
    prejudice, influence, colour, sway, weight, predispose
    distort, skew, bend, twist, warp
    angle, load, slant
    prejudiced, partial, partisan, one-sided, blinkered, subjective
    bigoted, intolerant, discriminatory, racist, racialist, sexist, heterosexist, homophobic, anti-gay, chauvinistic, chauvinist, anti-semitic
    jaundiced, distorted, warped, twisted, skewed
    parti pris
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  • 2Electronics
    Give a bias to:

    ‘bias the valve so that the anode current is normally zero or small’
    • ‘Hence, the unbiased variance estimator may be negatively biased due to spatial autocorrelation.’
    • ‘When a MOS channel is formed by forward biasing the gate, a Zener tunnel current evolves with a steep turn-on characteristic.’
    • ‘The third electrode may be biased at the potential of the anode through a ballast resistor, and be located near the cathode.’
    • ‘Apparently, function can be fine tuned by either reverse biasing or forward biasing the tension generating step.’
    • ‘The opening is urged to a closed position by resiliently biasing the filamentary members.’


Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘oblique line’; also as an adjective meaning ‘oblique’): from French biais, from Provençal, perhaps based on Greek epikarsios oblique.