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 That said, Virginia’s decision to mix the results of two different kinds of tests marks a new low in data standards. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, "A New Low in COVID-19 Data Standards," 14 May 2020 And there's the size of that remodel as well in that data, too. Dave Lieber, Dallas News, "NEW! Full Transcript of The Watchdog’s 2020 Property Tax & Appraisal Protest Seminar," 13 May 2020 The law, which took effect Tuesday, calls for teams of health care workers to trace the contacts of COVID-19 patients and share that data on a government server, with or without the patients’ consent. Nicole Winfield, Anchorage Daily News, "As Europe reopens, key virus protections are still elusive," 13 May 2020 The shutdown triggered a surge in unemployment in the US, with the county's economy losing 20.5 million jobs in April, the largest decline since the government began tracking the data in 1939. Zamira Rahim, CNN, "Why Gen Z will be hit the hardest by the financial fallout from coronavirus," 13 May 2020 Coronavirus cases still rising There are now more than 80,000 deaths and 1.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., according to the John Hopkins University data dashboard. Briana Rice, Cincinnati.com, "TJMaxx, malls? What's opening in Ohio; antibody testing; another stimulus check, Fauci warning and more," 12 May 2020 Read more here Economic data isn’t yet capturing the full magnitude of the fallout, but signs are creeping into reports. Dara Doyle, Bloomberg.com, "Europe Recession Inevitable as Last Line of Defense Crumbles," 12 May 2020 For example, the state health department has refused to make public a list of nursing homes with coronavirus outbreaks, saying it's confidential information, even though the state collects that data weekly. Anne Ryman, azcentral, "Ducey plans a 'surge' in coronavirus testing at all 147 Arizona nursing homes," 12 May 2020 Their latest data suggests at least 2 percent of small business are gone, according to a survey conducted May 9 to 11. Washington Post, "Small business used to define America’s economy. The pandemic could change that forever.," 12 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

16 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Data.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/data. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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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


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.


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

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