big data


: an accumulation of data that is too large and complex for processing by traditional database management tools

Did you know?

Big data is a new addition to our language, but exactly how new is not an easy matter to determine. A 1980 paper by Charles Tilly provides an early documented use of big data, but Tilly wasn't using the word in the exact same way we use it today; rather, he used the phrase "big-data people" to refer to historians engaged in data-rich fields such as cliometrics. Today, big data can refer to large data sets or to systems and solutions developed to manage such large accumulations of data, as well as for the branch of computing devoted to this development. Francis X. Diebold, a University of Pennsylvania economist, who has written a paper exploring the origin of big data as a term, a phenomenon, and a field of study, believes the term "probably originated in lunch-table conversations at Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) in the mid 1990s…."

Examples of big data in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web However, in recent years, this policy has shifted, and more efforts have been made to cultivate the area as a zone of technology and finance, with a special focus on AI and big data. Reena Devi,, 11 July 2024 In the new era of autonomous driving, success hinges upon a closer integration of industries like integrated circuits, big data, and AI. Ni Tao, Interesting Engineering, 27 June 2024 The Present Learn to harness the power of big data as a project manager Become a project management master with these 12 in-depth courses. Big Think, 24 June 2024 Techno-evangelists tout the ability of big data, artificial intelligence, and smartphones to improve welfare delivery, but Mody is not entirely sold. Milan Vaishnav, Foreign Affairs, 14 Apr. 2023 See all Example Sentences for big data 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'big data.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1996, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of big data was in 1996


Dictionary Entries Near big data

Cite this Entry

“Big data.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!