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

When January data showed aggregate financing rose sharply, after two slightly slower months, analysts started whispering that the taps were opening up again. Washington Post, "What China’s $30 Trillion Credit Pile Doesn’t Tell You," 18 Sep. 2019 Across the Timeline found that the Sun lineup boasts a league-leading 61 starts in that time, while data compiled by the WNBA and Positive Residual showed that the group has played a league-best 1,014 minutes together. Alexa Philippou, courant.com, "How the Sun’s commitment to a core group of players helped them become one of the best teams in the WNBA — and within reach of a championship," 15 Sep. 2019 Under federal laws and regulations, companies that claim their products are a smoking cessation aid or less harmful than other tobacco products can do so only after providing data to support the claims and gaining federal approval. Catherine Ho, SFChronicle.com, "What new federal action on e-cigarettes means for Juul," 14 Sep. 2019 But though there are lots of ways to cut down on data sharing and retention, there are some things services just need to know, right? Wired, "Hacker Lexicon: What Are Zero-Knowledge Proofs?," 14 Sep. 2019 Mobile video games generate about three-quarters of that, according to App Annie, a mobile data and market analytics firm. Los Angeles Times, "News Analysis: Apple’s Arcade video game service seeks to upend another business model," 13 Sep. 2019 Complicating the debate is that there’s a lot of fake news on fur’s pros and cons, and identifying what’s manipulated data is a fact-checker’s nightmare. Faran Krentcil, Harper's BAZAAR, "Should Fur Be Illegal?," 13 Sep. 2019 Tough spent six years reporting his book, which mixes the stories of students who are trying to get into college and stay there, often against great odds, against the data and economics driving admissions. Jenny Anderson, Quartz, "America’s top colleges are not the engines of social mobility they say they are," 13 Sep. 2019 Currier's data calculates points-in-standings lost due to players missing from the lineup. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Oliver Ekman-Larsson's cryptic injury is latest in string of bad luck for Coyotes," 12 Sep. 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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Learn More about data

Dictionary Entries near data

Dasyurus

dat

DAT

data

data bank

database

dataflow

Statistics for data

Last Updated

4 Oct 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

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