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

There has been a 400 percent increase in the consumption of clothing over the past 20 years, according to data provided by TheRealReal. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "How Sustainable Is Consigning Clothing? TheRealReal Is Glad You Asked," 5 Apr. 2019 Advertising Hasan’s group counts at least 16,000 fire incidents across Bangladesh in the last decade which killed about 1,590 people, according to data compiled from the fire department and other government and media reports. Julhas Alam, The Seattle Times, "Bangladesh building fire exposes safety vulnerabilities," 29 Mar. 2019 Through the first two months of 2019, shares of companies with low earnings stability over the past 10 years have climbed more than those with steadier profits, according to data compiled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Michael Wursthorn, WSJ, "Riskier Stocks Are Paying Off," 10 Mar. 2019 This chart, based on data compiled by researcher Josh Tewksbury, shows the correlation between the number of guns and gun deaths (including homicides and suicides) among wealthier nations: Guns are not the only contributor to violence. German Lopez, Vox, "I’ve covered gun violence for years. The solutions aren’t a big mystery.," 14 Feb. 2019 Getting all of this data back to Earth will take up to two years. Loren Grush, The Verge, "On New Year’s Day, a spacecraft will zoom by the most distant object humanity has ever visited," 27 Dec. 2018 This data is based on a petition to the United Nations and the World Health Organization that was signed in 2015. Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Can AirPods and Other Wireless Headphones Really Cause Cancer?," 17 Mar. 2019 As for that whole handing-over-personal-data thing? Biometrics supporters point out that most consumers now freely share vast amounts of data online, and are accustomed to using biometric IDs to perform tasks like unlocking their phones. Barbara Peterson, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Future of Biometrics at the Airport," 20 Sep. 2018 This data is sure to leave royal style purist shook. Madisen Theobald, Allure, "The Top Global Hair Trends In 2018, According to Pinterest," 25 Aug. 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

23 Apr 2019

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 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

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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