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noun plural but singular or plural in construction, often attributive da·ta \ˈdā-tə, ˈda- also ˈdä-\

Simple Definition of data

  • : facts or information used usually to calculate, analyze, or plan something

  • : information that is produced or stored by a computer

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of data

  1. 1 :  factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation <the data is plentiful and easily available — H. A. Gleason, Jr.> <comprehensive data on economic growth have been published — N. H. Jacoby>

  2. 2 :  information output by a sensing device or organ that includes both useful and irrelevant or redundant information and must be processed to be meaningful

  3. 3 :  information in numerical form that can be digitally transmitted or processed

Usage Discussion of data

Data leads a life of its own quite independent of datum, of which it was originally the plural. It occurs in two constructions: as a plural noun (like earnings), taking a plural verb and plural modifiers (as these, many, a few) but not cardinal numbers, and serving as a referent for plural pronouns (as they, them); and as an abstract mass noun (like information), taking a singular verb and singular modifiers (as this, much, little), and being referred to by a singular pronoun (it). Both constructions are standard. The plural construction is more common in print, evidently because the house style of several publishers mandates it.

Examples of data in a sentence

  1. Smith, himself a stay-at-home dad and a journalist, mixes accessible summaries of social-science data with anecdotes drawn from interviews with couples in which the men have chosen, or have been compelled by economic circumstance, to become primary caregivers to their children. —Eduardo M. Pealver, Commonweal,11 Sept. 2009

  2. He plays Chuck Bartowski, a computer-tech expert with the Buy More store's Nerd Herd … who unwittingly becomes a secret agent when government data is downloaded to his brain. —Michael Logan, TV Guide, September 10-16, 2007

  3. As measurements get better and more data pour in, physicists will bring those errors under control and chart exciting new territory. But for many, the wait is a strain. —Charles Seife, Science, 2 May 2003

  4. By studying obscure demographic and economic data, he deduced that the Soviets were in crisis—and spending a far bigger slice of its national income on defense than anyone had suspected. —John Barry et al., Newsweek, 21 May 2001

Origin and Etymology of data

Latin, plural of datum (see datum)

First Known Use: 1646

Other Computer-Related Terms

DATA Defined for Kids


noun plural da·ta \ˈdā-tə, ˈda-tə\

Definition of data for Students

  1. 1 :  facts about something that can be used in calculating, reasoning, or planning

  2. 2 :  information expressed as numbers for use especially in a computer Hint: Data can be used as a singular or a plural in writing and speaking. <This data is useful.> <These data have been questioned.>

Medical Dictionary

noun plural but singular or plural in construction da·ta \ˈdāt-ə, ˈdat-, ˈdät-\

Medical Definition of data

  1. :  factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation <the data is plentiful and easily available—H. A. Gleason, Jr.> <comprehensive data on the incidence of Lyme disease>

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