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 output by a sensing device or organ that includes both useful and irrelevant or redundant information and must be processed to be meaningful
3 : information in numerical form that can be digitally transmitted or processed
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
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
DATA Defined for English Language Learners
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
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 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
Seen and Heard
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