Based is a slang term that conveys many different meanings depending on the context. Based typically means something that is "agreeable" and "cool," but it can also be used to mean something is considered anti-woke. Often used as part of the wider catchphrase Based and Redpilled, the word started to become used as a standalone term, further greying the core meaning and making it rely on the surrounding context of where it's placed.
The expression was originally invented by rapper Lil B, aka Based God, taken from the word "basehead," which he used to receive as an insult. Lil B took the word in the opposite direction around mid-2010, transforming it into a term for being yourself and not being swayed by outside influence, which was solidified in his interview with Complex on June 9th, 2010 (shown below).
"Based means being yourself. 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."
Based began to spread around through his nickname Based God following the interview in 2010, which subsequently spawned many memes about him, usually in the form of thanking him in a similar but unironic way to Thanks Obama, which came out a year before. The first meme image to use Based God was posted to the Tumblr page ThankYouBasedGod on July 28th, 2010, in which a picture of Paul Pierce is used (shown below).
Based and Redpilled
Based then, through the extension of meaning being unswayed by common culture, became the first half of the Based and Redpilled meme, which meant to be anti-the current thing that is commonly pushed at any given time during a trend or popular opinion. The image of two wolves as part of Inside You Are Two Wolves comes from Funnyjunk user sadisticplatypi on January 18th, 2014 (shown below).
Based on What?
After some time being used online, Based became separated from Based and Redpilled, and started to be used solo, which itself created the meme Based on What? in which someone using Based in text form would be asked "what they were based on" for humorous effect (shown below). In early February 2020, the earliest viral meme containing the phrase, a still shot taken from an Instagram livestream of American rapper Soulja Boy paired with the caption "Based? Based on What?," was posted by an unknown user. The earliest reposts were made by Amino user marshokuma (shown below).
Around March 2021, the Spanish translation of the slang started to be used by Latin Americans on social media. The term "Basado" is used similarly to "based" slang in cases where a person wants to share a truthful fact, regardless of whether people will be offended by it. For example, on November 8th, 2021, Twitter user @polmccarne asked what "basado" means to his followers, garnering 7,400 likes and 329 retweets in two years. User @sxseils answered (seen below) ironically the tweet by saying "A little basado on your part to ask that." The post received 401 likes in two years.
Based Department is a phrase typically used to express that another person’s actions or post is considered based. It is used as if a person is receiving a phone call from a fictional "Based Department," such as "Hello, Based department?"
Based Stickman, also known as Alt-Knight, is a nickname given to California resident Kyle Chapman who was arrested at a pro-Trump rally for hitting an Antifa protester over the head with a stick during a clash between Trump supporters and anti-Trump demonstrators in early March 2017.