General English

  • adjective relating to a low-pitched voice or music
  • noun a male singer with a low-pitched voice
  • noun a guitar with a low-pitched sound
  • noun a type of edible freshwater fish

General Science

  • noun the lower end of the range of audible frequencies that make up a sound


  • Within the audio frequency range, the low end of the detectable frequencies. This interval usually spans from about 20 Hz to about 300 Hz, although the defined interval varies. Also called bass frequencies.


  • A prized silvery grey round non-oily fish, Dicentrarchus labrax, up to 1 m in length which lives in saltwater lakes, estuaries and around some European coasts. The flesh is white and is cooked in any way.


  • noun a type of fish that is found in rivers, lakes and seas and is caught for food

Origin & History of “bass”

Bass the fish (15th c.) and bass the musical term (15th c.) are of course completely unrelated words, with different pronunciations. Bass meaning ‘of the lowest register’ is simply a modified spelling of the adjective base, under the influence of Italian basso. Related words are bassoon (18th c.), from French basson, and basset-horn (19th c.), a partial translation of Italian corno di bassetto, literally ‘bass horn’.

The bass is a spiny-finned fish, and it may be that its name is related to Old English byrst ‘bristle’. The Old English term for the fish was bærs, which survived dialectally until the 19th century in the form barse, and it is thought that it goes back to a Germanic base *bars- (source of German barsch); this may be cognate with *bors-, from which Old English byrst came. In the 15th century, barse underwent some sort of phonetic mutation to produce bass.