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 The only memorable datum in 300 pages of chaff was the fact that, not counting his brothers, Jim Buckley had stood up as best man for five different bridegrooms. Neal B. Freeman, National Review, "The Unexpurgated Jim Buckley," 5 Oct. 2020 Coronavirus testing has reached record levels in Oregon with nearly 12,000 residents receiving results in the past week, according to state data analyzed by The Oregonian/OregonLive. oregonlive, "Coronavirus testing rises sharply in Oregon as capacity expands, guidance loosened," 30 Apr. 2020 But Smith and her colleagues now have solid data to back up other aspects of these creatures’ superpowered spines at a level of detail that’s never been seen before. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Hero Shrews’ Extreme, Superstrong Backbones Are the Stuff of Legend," 30 Apr. 2020 Blacks have suffered roughly double the fatality rate of whites during the epidemic, according to city health data. Claudia Torrens, The Christian Science Monitor, "Immigrants deliver food and hope to others struggling in crisis," 30 Apr. 2020 The study of the highly disparate places will provide data about community spread of COVID-19, a UCSF news release said. Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times, "Marin and UCSF differ on whether isolated Bolinas can be declared free of coronavirus," 29 Apr. 2020 In particular, fog-clearing may enable the widespread use of an emerging technology known as free-space optical communications, which delivers data in laser light through air instead of optical fiber. Sophia Chen, Wired, "Physicists Clear the Air With a Sweet Frickin' Laser Beam," 29 Apr. 2020 In total, 78 Ohioans have died since Sunday, according to Wednesday’s data. Jessie Balmert, Cincinnati.com, "Coronavirus in Ohio: Virtual graduations are best option for the class of 2020, DeWine says," 29 Apr. 2020 In Birmingham, the state’s largest city, Mayor Randall L. Woodfin (D) has long nursed fears that the Republican governor would base her coronavirus decisions on the words of conservative pundits and politicians, not on scientific data. Washington Post, "Southern governors who initially downplayed coronavirus threat ease into re...," 29 Apr. 2020

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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Time Traveler for datum

Time Traveler

The first known use of datum was in 1646

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Statistics for datum

Last Updated

14 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Datum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/datum. Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for datum


How to pronounce datum (audio) How to pronounce datum (audio)

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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Comments on datum

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