da·​ta | \ ˈdā-tə How to pronounce data (audio) , ˈda- How to pronounce data (audio) also ˈdä- How to pronounce data (audio) \

Definition of data

1 : factual information (such 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 : information in digital form that can be transmitted or processed
3 : information output by a sensing device or organ that includes both useful and irrelevant or redundant information and must be processed to be meaningful

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Is data singular or plural?: Usage Guide

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 (such as these, many, a few) but not cardinal numbers, and serving as a referent for plural pronouns (such as they, them); and as an abstract mass noun (like information), taking a singular verb and singular modifiers (such 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

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 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 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 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
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Recent Examples on the Web

This data doesn’t cover the countless additional blows to the head that don’t reach the level of concussion but still may pose a risk for the brain. Brian Resnick, Vox, "What a lifetime of playing football can do to the human brain," 4 Feb. 2019 This data differs from that of the CDC, perhaps because birth rate reporting is inconsistent and unenforced. Jennifer Gerson, Marie Claire, "What Are the Chances IVF Works?," 1 Oct. 2018 After a two day journey, the spacecraft should land on the moon Feb. 13, 2019, to plant an Israeli flag and to collect scientific data for two months. Lilly Price, USA TODAY, "Israel plans mission to the moon using smallest spacecraft to ever make the journey," 11 July 2018 In three years, 20,600 patrons have funded her to the tune of more than $1.58 million, according to data Palmer's team provided. Jed Gottlieb, Billboard, "How Amanda Palmer Is Raising Even More Funding Than She Did on Kickstarter," 11 July 2018 As for the next decade, Marchetti pointed to data as being the biggest driver of change. Emily Farra, Vogue, "“The Next Coco Chanel Will Be a Coder”—Federico Marchetti Gets Candid About Sustainable Fashion and Tech," 26 Apr. 2019 Provided with this data, a gunner can make minute adjustments to achieve greater accuracy, such as raising the tank gun barrel slightly to compensate for the effects of gravity. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Army’s Next Infantry Guns Will Have Computerized Fire Control for Unreal Accuracy," 14 Feb. 2019 The Heat Is On Award Critics of Sidewalk Labs’ new waterfront neighborhood in Toronto ask the tough questions about data, privacy and due process. Mark Lamster, Curbed, "2018 in architecture: The good, the bad, and the urbanism," 27 Dec. 2018 The report, however, may have exaggerated the scope of Facebook partners’ access to that data, which in many cases was limited to application integration. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Facebook “partner” arrangements: Are they as bad as they look?," 19 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'data.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of data

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for data

Latin, plural of datum — see datum

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Dictionary Entries near data

Dasyurus

dat

DAT

data

data bank

database

dataflow

Statistics for data

Last Updated

17 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for data

The first known use of data was in 1646

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More Definitions for data

data

noun

English Language Learners Definition of data

: facts or information used usually to calculate, analyze, or plan something
: information that is produced or stored by a computer
da·​ta | \ ˈdā-tə How to pronounce data (audio) , ˈda-tə\

Kids Definition of data

1 : facts about something that can be used in calculating, reasoning, or planning
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.
da·​ta | \ ˈdāt-ə How to pronounce data (audio) , ˈdat- How to pronounce data (audio) , ˈdät- How to pronounce data (audio) \

Medical Definition of data

: 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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More from Merriam-Webster on data

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with data

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for data

Spanish Central: Translation of data

Nglish: Translation of data for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of data for Arabic Speakers

Comments on data

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