da·​tum | \ ˈdā-təm How to pronounce datum (audio) , ˈda- How to pronounce datum (audio) , ˈdä-\

Definition of datum

1 plural data\ ˈdā-​tə How to pronounce data (audio) , ˈda-​ How to pronounce data (audio) also  ˈdä-​ How to pronounce data (audio)\ : something given or admitted especially as a basis for reasoning or inference an important historical datum This enormous expense—and considerable risk—to pick up a datum or two about geriatrics?— Charles Krauthammer
2 plural datums, mathematics : something used as a basis for calculating or measuring measuring the distance between datum points … make things more efficient for those of us whose work requires a time datum.— Robert Steinbrunn

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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 datum in a Sentence

let's begin our discussion of this matter with a datum from actual experience

Recent Examples on the Web

There is also little data on whether banning open carry really does keep people safer. Clare Duffy, CNN, "Asking customers not to bring guns into stores is one thing. Enforcing the policy is another," 17 Sep. 2019 During the hour-long meeting, the boards approved an agreement aimed at smoothing student transitions and sharing data on student performance that might help refine curriculum and instruction. Karen Berkowitz, chicagotribune.com, "4 school districts in Highland Park, Deerfield area consider collaboration on security, curriculum," 16 Sep. 2019 Taking the long view, the census data on income distribution tells a mostly positive story, albeit with some twists and turns. Karl W. Smith, Twin Cities, "Karl W. Smith: The good news about income inequality," 15 Sep. 2019 The aborted landing prompted a National Transportation Safety Board investigation and a Government Accountability Office report published last month saying the FAA needs to do a better job collecting and analyzing data on ground incidents. Matthias Gafni, SFChronicle.com, "SFO: The typo that almost crashed a plane," 13 Sep. 2019 Researchers examined data on 453,577 U.S. residents aged 25 to 65 years who died by suicide from 1999 to 2016. Reuters, The Mercury News, "Suicide on the rise in US – especially in rural areas," 12 Sep. 2019 The citizen scientist project will help Harris County Precinct 4 Biological Control Initiative collect data on the APPs and the mosquito assassins as an approach to mosquito control. Chevall Pryce, Houston Chronicle, "Researchers seek ‘citizen scientists’ to help combat mosquitoes in Harris County," 11 Sep. 2019 Cannabis dominated India’s illicit drug trade, according to 2016 data on drug seizures. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "Delhi consumes more weed than Los Angeles, Mumbai more than London," 10 Sep. 2019 However, the data on user frequency collected through the pilot can be used for other transportation funding programs. Elizabeth Marie Himchak, Pomerado News, "Pilot program is offering limited free rides to seniors," 6 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'datum.' 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 datum

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for datum

Latin, from neuter of datus

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Statistics for datum

Last Updated

5 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for datum

The first known use of datum was in 1646

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More Definitions for datum



English Language Learners Definition of datum

formal + technical : a single piece of information


da·​tum | \ ˈdā-təm How to pronounce datum (audio) , ˈda-, ˈdä-\
plural data\ -​tə \ or datums

Kids Definition of datum

: a single piece of information : fact

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More from Merriam-Webster on datum

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with datum

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for datum

Spanish Central: Translation of datum

Nglish: Translation of datum for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of datum for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about datum

Comments on datum

What made you want to look up datum? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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