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 data will help inform the tech giant's creation of new software that can recommend changes in how patients are cared for, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, "Google reportedly mining millions of Americans personal health data," 11 Nov. 2019 The actual impact of the Trump travel ban, in other words, could be even bigger than what the data shows. Vahid Niayesh, The Conversation, "What Trump’s travel ban really looks like, almost two years in," 28 Oct. 2019 The skimming code would capture your information in real time and send it to remote server where the data is collected by the criminals behind the scene. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "Hackers hover near online shopping carts, too. It's called e-skimming," 23 Oct. 2019 In the class of students that graduated at the end of the 2007-08 school year — Roberts' class — 13 of the 40 students who graduated went right to college the next year, according to data tracked by the Michigan Department of Education. David Jesse, Freep.com, "Getting to college from rural Michigan is tough. Staying is tougher," 22 Oct. 2019 About 110 students collected food here during the fall 2015 semester, according to data provided by Jessica Taylor, the founding director of the pantry and a social work professor at the university. Max Londberg, Cincinnati.com, "'Shocking' number of Cincinnati area college students skip meals, worry about going hungry," 18 Oct. 2019 Jobs, the economy and education also ranked high on Black women’s list of concerns, but the data shows that health, freedom and safety are the most urgent issues. Glynda C. Carr, Essence, "Presidential Candidates Take Note: Black Women Voters Want to Hear Your Plan For Addressing These Issues," 15 Oct. 2019 Providence Equity acquired a stake in the company in 2016, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Gillian Tan, Bloomberg.com, "EQT Is in Talks to Buy Data-Center Firm EdgeConneX for $2.5 Billion," 11 Oct. 2019 The billions of data points, and counting, that the scanners have collected have proved hard to interpret. Paul Voosen, Science Magazine, "A project to monitor every aspect of a fast-shrinking glacier could hold an answer to an urgent question: How fast will seas rise?," 10 Oct. 2019

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

15 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Data.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/data?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=d&file=data001m. Accessed 22 November 2019.

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More Definitions for data


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
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.
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

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