da·​ta | \ˈdā-tə, ˈda- also ˈdä- \

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

As of Saturday, the number of people voting early had outpaced that of the 2014 midterm elections in 28 states, according to data compiled by Michael McDonald, a political-science professor at the University of Florida. Amy Gardner, The Seattle Times, "Without evidence, Trump and Sessions warn of voter fraud in Tuesday’s elections," 5 Nov. 2018 Decisions about product access in our stores are data-driven. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Fred Meyer Grocery Store Locks Up Black Hair Care Products," 24 Aug. 2018 The Sacramento Kings built an e-sports training facility in its home arena, while the 76ers announced that Michael Lai, who works as a data scientist for the NBA team, will also serve as general manager of the new pro gaming offshoot. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Why competitive gaming is starting to look a lot like professional sports," 27 July 2018 Ken Lord, a data scientist from Colorado, had been a massive Star Citizen backer since the game first launched on Kickstarter in 2012. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Court denies Star Citizen backer’s $4,500 refund lawsuit," 18 July 2018 For residents who regularly circle blocks scouring for parking, the findings by data scientist Eric Scharnhorst seem almost impossible. Caitlin Mccabe, Philly.com, "Philadelphia has 2,172,896 parking spaces. So how come you're still circling the block?," 12 July 2018 Essentially, baseball has become a game full of data scientists. Alex Speier, BostonGlobe.com, "What’s up with all the strikeouts in Major League Baseball?," 12 July 2018 The base salary is more than double what his predecessor, Sheahon Zenger, was making ($700,000) and also would have ranked fourth nationally last year, according to data compiled by Spencer Fane LLP. Jesse Newell, kansascity, "How Jeff Long — introduced as new AD Wednesday — impressed KU’s search committee," 11 July 2018 As of 2017, the company employed more than 3,500 full- and part-time stylists and dozens of data scientists, and had five warehouses across the United States. Tracey Lien, latimes.com, "With personalized styling and now kids clothing, Stitch Fix looks to avoid the pitfalls of subscription boxes," 10 July 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

15 Nov 2018

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, 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, ˈdat-, ˈdät- \

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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