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

Like all the crappy ads are a byproduct of not being coordinated and not being data-driven. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Netflix will get ads, predicts the Trade Desk CEO Jeff Green," 15 Nov. 2018 This week, Nature published a new study that makes use of that data to understand how people around the world think about hard moral tradeoffs. Kelsey Piper, Vox, "This is the most important moral question about self-driving cars," 9 Nov. 2018 Plenty of data exists that says long-term relationships are hard on desire, and female desire in particular. Amanda Mitchell, Marie Claire, "The "Wonderful Weirdness" of Female Sexuality," 23 Oct. 2018 And fair bit of data was exposed, including names, emails, birth dates, relationships statuses, places lived, job information, and more. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Google+ Completely Implodes Under Privacy Breach," 8 Oct. 2018 In measuring the average age of successful entrepreneurs, and the average age of the founders of highly successful companies, the researchers used interesting data sets. Michael Taylor, San Antonio Express-News, "The best age for entrepreneurship," 13 July 2018 For the tech industry, reining in the impact of data centers is key. Megan Michelson, Outside Online, "Kate Brandt Is Turning Google into a Green Powerhouse," 5 July 2018 Phase two would involve construction of a two-story, 200,000-square-foot data center and a third data center, totaling 100,000 square feet on one level, would be built in phase three, Dakich said. Karen Caffarini, Post-Tribune, "Data center hopes to rise from ashes of defunct Hammond power plant," 22 June 2018 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

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

29 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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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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