da·​ta | \ ˈdā-tə, ˈda- also ˈdä- \

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

Facebook, for its part, isn't particularly clear about what happens to that data once it's received, but certainly wouldn't object to continuing to get it. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "There's a Whole Web of Popular Apps Sending Your Data Off to Facebook," 2 Jan. 2019 Those conclusions are based on a data set that included 10.4 million tweets, 1,100 YouTube channels, 116,000 Instagram posts, and 61,500 Facebook posts, which combined saw tens of millions of engagements. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Reports to Senate criticize social media giants for providing incomplete data in Russia probe," 17 Dec. 2018 The upgrade became available during the company’s Surface event on Tuesday, but in the days that followed, numerous users across the web reported that the transition deleted massive chunks of data. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "Microsoft pulls Windows 10 October 2018 Update after reports of mass file deletion," 6 Oct. 2018 By contrast, previous measurements made from ships only gave around 1,000 data sets over the past two decades. Kasha Patel, Smithsonian, "How Data-Gathering Seals Help Scientists Measure the Melting Antarctic," 13 July 2018 Only 22 cities provided Brennan with data for crime and violent crime, but all 30 provided data for murder. German Lopez, Vox, "Crime and murder fell in America’s most populous cities in 2018," 18 Dec. 2018 With this data, the think tank was able to estimate the production even in places like China that don’t make their financial information publicly available (coal plants in North America and Europe make this data public). Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Nearly Half the World's Coal Plants Are Losing Money," 4 Dec. 2018 Volkswagen offered a similar explanation but added that customers have to agree to the data-sharing agreement. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "Automakers give the Chinese government access to location data of electric cars," 30 Nov. 2018 The documents were originally uncovered during a California lawsuit over data sharing between Facebook and the maker of an app called Six4Three, and are under seal in the United States. Adam Satariano, The Seattle Times, "A hot seat for Facebook, an empty chair for Zuckerberg and a vow to share secret files," 27 Nov. 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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Dictionary Entries near data

Dasyurus

DAT

dat

data

data bank

database

dataflow

Statistics for data

Last Updated

11 Jan 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, 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, 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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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

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