data

noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction, often attributive da·ta \ ˈdā-tə , ˈda- also ˈdä- \
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

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

Is data singular or plural?

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

  1. 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. PealverCommonweal11 Sept. 2009
  2. 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 LoganTV GuideSeptember 10-16, 2007
  3. 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 SeifeScience2 May 2003
  4. 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.Newsweek21 May 2001

Recent Examples of data from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of data

Latin, plural of datum — see datum

Other Computer-Related Terms



DATA Defined for English Language Learners

data

noun

Definition of data for English Language Learners

  • : facts or information used usually to calculate, analyze, or plan something

  • : information that is produced or stored by a computer


DATA Defined for Kids

data

noun plural da·ta \ ˈdā-tə , ˈda-tə \

Definition of data for Students

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.

Medical Dictionary

data

noun plural but singular or plural in construction 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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