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French biais , in 14th cent. ‘oblique, obliquity’. Also Sardinian biasciu , Italian s-biescio awry


  • 1: a line diagonal to the grain of a fabric; especially : a line at a 45 degree angle to the selvage often utilized in the cutting of garments for smoother fit
  • 2a : a peculiarity in the shape of a bowl that causes it to swerve when rolled on the green in lawn bowling
b : the tendency of a bowl to swerve; also : the impulse causing this tendency
c : the swerve of the bowl
  • 3a : bent, tendency
b : an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment : prejudice
c : an instance of such prejudice
d (1) : deviation of the expected value of a statistical estimate from the quantity it estimates (2) : systematic error introduced into sampling or testing by selecting or encouraging one outcome or answer over others
  • 4a : a voltage applied to a device (as a transistor control electrode) to establish a reference level for operation
b : a high-frequency voltage combined with an audio signal to reduce distortion in tape recording


Bias is an inclination to present or hold a partial perspective at the expense of (possibly equally valid) alternatives. Bias can come in many forms.

A cognitive bias is the human tendency to make systematic decisions in certain circumstances based on cognitive factors rather than evidence. Such biases can result from information-processing shortcuts called heuristics. They include errors in judgment, social attribution, and memory. Cognitive biases are a common outcome of human thought, and often drastically skew the reliability of anecdotal and legal evidence. It is a phenomenon studied in cognitive science and social psychology.