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 The assurance requires that all encryption and decryption is performed on the client’s local device, and the data is encrypted both in-transit and at rest on the provider’s servers. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Choosing 2FA authenticator apps can be hard. Ars did it so you don’t have to," 27 May 2020 Daily ICU bed use has ranged between 248 and 344 since the state began reporting the data on April 9. Stephanie Innes, azcentral, "Arizona saw highest single-day ER visits, Yuma sees spike in cases related to COVID-19 over weekend," 26 May 2020 More than 1,200 detainees have tested positive for COVID-19 in ICE facilities, according to data on the agency’s website. NBC News, "Photos: Staten Islanders mark Memorial Day in different ways," 26 May 2020 Davidson's team also laser-scanned every nook and cranny, and getting that data was no easy task. CBS News, "The Statue of Liberty as you've never seen her before," 24 May 2020 Changes include communicating better about what data is synced with Google, and how the Chrome browser manages cookies, both in real-world browsing as well as in Incognito mode. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Google redesigns Chrome privacy settings, adds Enhanced Safe Browsing," 19 May 2020 The Justice Department slammed Apple after data on the Pensacola, Fla., gunman's phone was traced back to al-Qaeda. Washington Post, "The Technology 202: TikTok's new chief executive's success may hinge on allaying Washington's concerns," 18 May 2020 Italy has had more than 225,400 confirmed cases of the virus and at least 31,900 deaths since the outbreak in February, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Cailey Rizzo, Travel + Leisure, "Italy Reopens Shops, Restaurants in Latest Lockdown Lift — What to Know," 18 May 2020 The yellow bots—with spindly, jointed legs—operate by remote control and contain cameras that both collect data on crowd sizes and keep them from running into humans. Susan Seubert, National Geographic, "Backyard camping and other ways to fire up wanderlust at home," 13 May 2020

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

Statistics for data

Last Updated

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Data.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/data. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for data

data

noun
How to pronounce data (audio) How to pronounce data (audio) How to pronounce data (audio)

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

data

noun plural
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.

data

noun plural but singular or plural in construction
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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for data

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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