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This Is What Calling Someone "Based" Actually Means

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Nov. 30 2020, Updated 10:20 p.m. ET

If you've spent a modicum of time looking at Twitter or scrolling through memes, chances are you've seen the term "based" before. You've undoubtedly seen "Thank you, Based God" used in hip hop communities. But have you ever stopped to wonder what, exactly, you're saying when you use this phrase? Is it an insult? Is it something positive that you should be throwing around? It's natural to wonder these things, since some words on the internet definitely would be considered rude in conversation. 

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But you'll likely be pleased to know, at least in this instance, that "based" isn't something mean to call someone, especially as it's taken its meaning from rapper Lil B the Based God. Here's what we know about where it came from, what you should know about how to use it, and if you should feel comfortable using the phrase for other people.

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What does "based" mean?

The term "based" is often thrown around in a positive manner, though according to rapper Lil B the Based God, from whom the term is said to have originated in popular vernacular from, it's positive. He gave his own explanation in an interview with the publication Complex as to what the phrase means, explaining how he took its original negative connotation and flipped it around. It went from calling someone something akin to a "dopehead" to a meaningful honor, in Lil B's eyes, at least. 

"Based means being yourself," says Lil B. "Not being scared of what people think about you. Not being afraid to do what you wanna do. Being positive. 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. I started embracing it like, 'Yeah, I’m based.' I made it mine. I embedded it in my head. Based is positive."

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Source: Getty Images

Lil B has created something of a persona around being "based," and as such, people and fans call him "the based God," either when being serious or in jest. It's a phrase that's meant to be endearing. Of course, there are other definitions being tossed around as well, such as those on Urban Dictionary: "the quality of having an opinion without regard for what other people think."

So in the end the phrase is a net positive one, though you might not want to go around calling your boss or your college professor "based." It might be appropriate for close friends, or as a silly joke between Lil B fans, or even for memes. But now that you know what it means, perhaps the phrase has now been demystified. The next time you see "Thank you, Based God," you'll know exactly what's being said. 

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