The Evolution of Based – A Comprehensive Journey from Street Slang to Online Sensation

by Tara Price

26th July, 2023

The Evolution of Based - A Comprehensive Journey from Street Slang to Online Sensation

From hidden corners of urban streets to the centre stage of digital discourse, the term based has undergone a profound transformation. It’s intriguing to delve into this journey of the based urban dictionary term and unravel its evolution, usage, and nuances. This article chronicles the fascinating odyssey of based, exploring its origin, meaning, and current implications in the digital world.

1. The Genesis of Based

Emerging from the gritty backdrop of street culture, the term based initially carried a rather negative connotation. Originally, it was used as an epithet for people addicted to base drugs, specifically crack cocaine. In this context, ‘based’ was synonymous with erratic behaviour and addiction, painting a grim picture of urban struggles.

Based (Original Meaning): An individual addicted to base drugs, particularly crack cocaine.

However, this initial definition of based was not destined to last. The term was awaiting a revolutionary reinterpretation that would turn its meaning upside down.

2. The Rebirth of Based: The Lil B Influence

The transformation of based from a derogatory term to a symbol of self-assertion and positivity is credited to Brandon McCartney, popularly known as Lil B or The BasedGod. The rapper adopted based and redefined it as a badge of honour, a symbol of individuality, courage, and nonchalance towards societal judgement.

Based (Lil B’s Definition): Being oneself without fear of societal judgement, exuding confidence, and not being afraid to do what one wants.

This reinterpretation was a radical departure from the term’s original meaning, marking a significant turning point in the journey of based.

3. The Rise of Based in the Digital Landscape

With the dawn of the digital age, based found a new home on internet platforms, quickly becoming a popular slang term. The digital landscape breathed new life into based, expanding its usage and reach. The term was widely used on 4chan, an anonymous English-language imageboard website, where it was initially used as a term of praise for experimental music.

4. The Political Detour of Based

The term based soon found a foothold in online political forums. Here, it was used as an expression of agreement, particularly with controversial actions deemed brave or nonconformist. This use of based signified a deviation from political correctness and an endorsement of individual freedom of expression.

5. Based in the Social Media Spotlight

The advent of social media platforms like TikTok, Twitter, and Snapchat brought based into the mainstream limelight. On these platforms, based is primarily used to mean “I agree” or “that’s cool”. The term has become a viral phenomenon, with hashtags like #based accumulating billions of views and becoming a popular tag for content creators.

6. The Diverse Implications of Based

The meaning of based is not fixed but varies depending on the context. In addition to Lil B’s definition, based can be an expression of admiration, a term of agreement, a descriptor of one’s worldview, or even a term of endearment or greeting among friends. It can also be used to describe something cool or impressive.

6.1 Based as an Expression of Admiration or Respect

Based can express admiration or respect for someone seen as courageous or unapologetically true to themselves. For instance, someone might say, “That artist is so based,” to convey their appreciation for the artist’s authenticity and individuality.

6.2 Based as an Affirmation or Agreement

In conversation, based can be used as a simple affirmation or agreement with what someone else is saying. If someone shares an opinion that resonates with you, you can respond with “based” as a way of expressing your agreement.

6.3 Based as a Descriptor of One’s Worldview

Based can also be used to describe one’s general worldview or philosophy. For example, someone might describe themselves as based if they value individualism, free speech, and self-expression over conformity to societal norms.

6.4 Based as a Term of Endearment or Greeting

Among friends, based can also be used as a term of endearment or a casual greeting. This use of based reinforces the idea of camaraderie and shared understanding.

6.5 Based as a Descriptor of Something Cool or Impressive

Lastly, based can be used to express admiration for something considered cool or impressive. Whether it’s a new song, a video game, or even a car, based can be used to highlight its positive qualities and express admiration.

7. The Darker Side of Based

While based is generally perceived as a positive term, it still carries a darker connotation in certain contexts. In the realm of drug abuse, based can refer to someone addicted to cocaine. This use of based harks back to the term’s original meaning and serves as a stark reminder of its origins.

8. Unravelling the Based Slang in the Digital Age

With the proliferation of social media and digital communication, deciphering the nuances of online slang like based can be a daunting task. However, understanding the context and tracking the evolution of a term can provide valuable insights into its current usage and implications.

9. The Based Phenomenon on TikTok

On TikTok, the term based has gained viral popularity. It conveys the idea of being unapologetically true to oneself without being weighed down by others’ perceptions. This usage of based on TikTok is a testament to the platform’s power in shaping and amplifying online trends.

10. Deciphering Based Slang: A Parent’s Guide

For parents trying to navigate the maze of online slang, understanding terms like based can be a challenge. However, by understanding the context and the different ways based is used, parents can ensure they stay in tune with the digital language of their children.


From its humble beginnings as street slang to its rise as a viral phenomenon on social media, based has traversed a remarkable journey. Its evolution underscores the dynamic nature of language and the profound influence of cultural and digital shifts on our vocabulary. As the tale of based continues to unfold, it will be fascinating to see what new meanings and nuances this term will acquire in the future.

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