General English

General Science


  • noun the practice of favouring of one group or person rather than another


  • adverb with break on the ball
    Citation ‘It mattered not to him [Beldham] who bowled, or how he bowled, fast or slow, high or low, straight or bias’ (Mitford 1833 in HM)
  • noun the ‘break’ put on the ball by a spin bowler
    Citation ‘It is almost impossible for the umpire, standing where he does, to say that a ball wide-pitched will have the right bias to hit the wicket’ (Box 1868, pp 135–6)


  • noun error which occurs when carrying out random sampling by which the results are either too high or too low


  • A voltage, current, capacitance, or other input which is applied to a component or device to establish a reference level for its operation. For instance, the voltage applied to the control electrode of a transistor to set its operating point
  • A systematic deviation from an established point of reference.
  • In magnetic tape recording, a current that is applied to the audio signal to be recorded, in order to optimize performance during playback. This current varies depending on the tape type. Also called bias current (2), or magnetic bias (2).
  • In a tape deck, a circuit, which depending on the tape type, sets the bias (1) for optimal playback.
  • The force applied to a relay to hold it in a given position.

Health Economics

  • (written as Bias)

    In empirical work, any systematic difference between the empirical results of an analysis and the true facts of the case (e.g. the difference between the distribution of values in a sample and the actual values of the population from which the sample is drawn). In non-statistical areas it is any distorting influence that might systematically lead to wrong or misleading results, for example, a search of the (English language) literature on a subject might lead one to ignore all Chinese contributions (unfortunately, no reviewer knew Chinese) and to conclude something wrong about the results (apart from the apparent fact that Chinese researchers were not working in the field). Research sponsorship (whether by commercial - e.g. industrial - or non-commercial sponsors - e.g. governmental) can lead to pressure on researchers to produce particular results or suppress 'unwanted' results.

    Bias is broadly of three kinds: information (as when there are sys tematic coding errors); selection (as when there are systematic distortions in the ways that experimental subjects are selected) and confounding (as when some determinants are not controlled for). More specific common types of bias in empirical health economics, surveys and clinical trials include allocation bias, ascertainment bias (= detection bias), attention bias, cognitive bias, commercial bias, design bias, end of scale bias, exclusion bias, information bias (= observational bias), interviewer bias, justification bias, lead-time bias, length bias, measurement bias, observer bias, omitted variable bias, optimism bias, performance bias, personality bias, publication bias, range bias, recall bias, referral bias, response bias (= sample selection bias), reporting bias, selection bias, spacing out bias, spectrum bias, starting point bias, surveillance bias, therapeutic personality bias, verification bias (= work up bias), volunteer bias and withdrawal bias.

Information & Library Science

  • noun an unfair judgement influenced by opinions rather than facts


  • noun unfairly different treatment of a person or group as compared with others

Media Studies

  • noun the failure to report news in an impartial, factual manner, whether intentional or not
  • noun a prejudiced or non-objective attitude, which may not fairly represent all sides of an issue


  • noun a systematic error in the design or conduct of a study which could explain the results

Origin & History of “bias”

English acquired bias from Old French biais, but its previous history is uncertain. It probably came via Old Provençal, but where from? Speculations include Latin bifacem ‘looking two ways’, from bi- ‘two’ and faciēs ‘face’, and Greek epikársios ‘oblique’. when the word first entered English it meant simply ‘oblique line’, but by the end of the 16th century it was being applied more specifically to the game of bowls, in the sense of the ‘bowl’s curved path’, and also the ‘unequal weighting given to the bowl in order to achieve such a path’. The modern figurative senses ‘inclination’ and ‘prejudice’ derive from this.