data

noun

da·​ta ˈdā-tə How to pronounce data (audio) ˈda- How to pronounce data (audio)
also
ˈdä- How to pronounce data (audio)
plural in form but singular or plural in construction
often attributive
1
: factual information (such as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation
the data is plentiful and easily availableH. A. Gleason, Jr.
comprehensive data on economic growth have been publishedN. 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
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.

Example Sentences

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
Recent Examples on the Web The data since 2020 is unconfirmed and therefore not presented. Carlos Góes, The Conversation, 30 Jan. 2023 But as Slabinski tells me, while the continual slew of headlines about layoffs may make things look dire for tech employees, the data tells a different story. Anne Sraders, Fortune, 30 Jan. 2023 The data from 46brooklyn tracks list prices for drugs but does not include rebates and discounts to insurance companies or pharmacy benefit managers. Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY, 30 Jan. 2023 The data came as investors await a bumper week of interest-rate announcements, including from the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, plus earnings from tech giants. Will Horner, WSJ, 30 Jan. 2023 The data gathered by these devices help scientists understand wildlife behavior and make management decisions. Jacquelyne Germain, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 Jan. 2023 The reports measured Latino GDP for the year 2018, the most recent year data was available. Daniel Gonzalez, The Arizona Republic, 29 Jan. 2023 And the data doesn't show any signs of a coming slow down or any signs of likely action. NBC News, 29 Jan. 2023 Baluchistan, Pakistan’s largest yet least populated province, which shares extensive borders with Iran and Afghanistan, accounted for 318 of 2021’s road deaths, according to the same data. Leo Sands, Washington Post, 29 Jan. 2023 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Latin, plural of datum — see datum

First Known Use

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of data was in 1646

Dictionary Entries Near data

Cite this Entry

“Data.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/data. Accessed 9 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

data

noun singular or plural
da·​ta ˈdāt-ə How to pronounce data (audio) ˈdat- How to pronounce data (audio)
 also  ˈdät-
1
: facts about something that can be used in calculating, reasoning, or planning
2
: information in numerical form for use especially in a computer

Medical Definition

data

noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction
: factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation
the data is plentiful and easily availableH. A. Gleason, Jr.
comprehensive data on the incidence of Lyme disease

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