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ELL Guide

A guide for ELL (English Language Learners) at the University of Maine at Augusta

Basic -- Meaning & Pop Culture Origin

“Basic” is often used in this sense to refer to someone “uninteresting,” “uncool,” or “from a lower class.”  


It is often paired with the word “so” to form the phrase “so basic.”  


This is a demeaning or derogatory term that refers to someone the speaker feels they are “superior to,” “above,” or “better than.”  


An example in a sentence would be:  “Don’t hang out with her: she’s so basic.”  


“So basic” was popularized by the Netflix series Inventing Anna, about real-life con artist, Anna Sorokina, who pretended to be a German heiress in attempt to swindle banks out of large money and luxury hotels out of free rooms and services.  “So basic” was also featured on a Saturday Night Live skit.  


As the Netlix series debuted in 2022, this is a newly popularized term and may be heard more from a younger crowd.  It is not as though this term were invented by Anna Sorokina or the Netflix series, so it may not always be a direct reference to that series.  

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