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

The historic heatwave that has sent Alaskans scrambling to cool their sweltering homes has also toppled some lesser known temperature records, according to data from the National Weather Service. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "Records tumble as Alaska’s historic heat wave rolls on," 9 July 2019 The 20 most active tech companies on the buyback scene spent a little over $261 billion over the 12-month period ended with their most recent fiscal quarter reports, according to data from S&P Capital IQ. Dan Gallagher, WSJ, "Big Tech’s Buyback Spree Nears Its Limits," 9 July 2019 In Fort Bend County, overall drug overdose deaths are estimated to have increased by 71% in the past three years, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roy Kent, Houston Chronicle, "Fort Bend County joins multi-jurisdictional lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors," 8 July 2019 Denver has 2,673 active short-term vacation rentals, close to the 2,707 all-time high last month, according to data from the Department of Excise and Licenses. Saja Hindi, The Denver Post, "Denver attorney accused of violating short-term rental ordinance," 8 July 2019 The quakes were recorded at magnitudes between 3.2 and 5.4, according to data from the Geological Survey. oregonlive.com, "Recent earthquakes don’t suggest the Big One is imminent, experts say," 7 July 2019 Despite her steady criticism of the industry, Warren raised $625,025 from donors who work in the investment and securities firms for her 2012 Senate campaign, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. latimes.com, "Elizabeth Warren is winning grudging respect among some on Wall Street," 5 July 2019 In June, deforestation in the Amazon grew by 88% compared to the same month last year, according to data from the National Institute of Space Research. Washington Post, "Brazil president rebuts European criticism over environment," 5 July 2019 Venture funding for tech companies in France climbed to €2.3 billion in 2018, up 42% from €1.6 billion in 2017, according to data from industry research firm PitchBook. Alison Griswold, Quartz, "Paris is pitching itself as the next-best thing for tech startups," 3 July 2019

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





data bank



Statistics for data

Last Updated

12 Jul 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



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

What made you want to look up data? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

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