base 2 (bās)
adj. bas·er, bas·est
1. Having or showing a lack of decency; contemptible, mean-spirited, or selfish.
a. Being a metal that is of little value.
b. Containing such metals: base coins.
3. Archaic Of low birth, rank, or position.
4. Obsolete Short in stature.
A bass singer or voice.
[Middle English bas, low, from Old French, from Medieval Latin bassus.]
Synonyms: base2, low1, abject, ignoble, mean2, sordid
These adjectives mean lacking in dignity or falling short of the standards befitting humans. Base suggests a contemptible, mean-spirited, or selfish lack of human decency: "that liberal obedience, without which your army would be a base rabble" (Edmund Burke).
Something low violates standards of morality, ethics, or propriety: low cunning; a low trick. Abject means degrading or miserable: abject failure; abject poverty. Ignoble means lacking noble qualities, such as elevated moral character: "For my part I think it a less evil that some criminals should escape than that the government should play an ignoble part" (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.)
Mean suggests pettiness, spite, or stinginess: "Never ascribe to an opponent motives meaner than your own" (J.M. Barrie).
Sordid suggests foul, repulsive degradation: "It is through art ... that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence" (Oscar Wilde).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.