meta·​da·​ta | \ -ˈdā-tə , -ˈda- also -ˈdä-\

Definition of metadata

: data that provides information about other data

Keep scrolling for more

How Metadata Was Formed

It's easy to find data on the source of "metadata": the word was formed by combining "data" with "meta-," which means "transcending" and is often used to describe a new but related discipline designed to deal critically with the original one. "Meta-" was first used in that way in "metaphysics" and has been extended to a number of other disciplines, giving us such words as "metapsychology" and "metamathematics." "Metadata" takes the "transcending" aspect a step further, applying it to the concept of pure information instead of a discipline. "Metadata" is a fairly new word (it appeared in the latter half of the 20th century), whereas "data" can be traced back to the middle of the 17th century.

Examples of metadata in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Paul, meanwhile, has taken issue with Kavanaugh's record supporting the warrantless collection of telephone metadata. Judson Berger, Fox News, "Rand Paul says he will support Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh," 31 July 2018 Image forensics experts use computational techniques to pick out whether any pixels or metadata seem altered. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Four ways the internet changed the midterm elections," 7 Nov. 2018 Your phone calls, your metadata, your bank records, your visa records. Fox News, "Paul: Trump sees Mueller probe as 'accusation of collusion'," 18 July 2018 The Wehe app compares the data speeds that consumers experience with and without that content provider metadata. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "How a phone app detected Sprint’s alleged throttling of Skype," 29 Nov. 2018 Paul had cited Kavanaugh’s 2015 defense of the National Security Agency’s widescale secret collection of telephone metadata — records of callers and recipients’ phone numbers and times and durations of the calls. Dan Sewell, The Seattle Times, "Kavanaugh’s support for surveilling Americans raises concern," 27 Aug. 2018 For longer-term storage, historians could store GIF and video versions of an animation alongside detailed metadata about the original GIF file, which would serve as a sort of instruction manual for authentic rendering. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "The Absurdly Complicated Art of GIF Preservation," 24 May 2018 The aim is to make K-pop more searchable and discoverable by standardizing the metadata of Korean songs by applying industry-standard descriptors such as genre, mood, era, origin, tempo and artist language. Tamar Herman, Billboard, "YG Plus Teams Up With Gracenote to Bring K-pop to More Listeners Around the Globe," 25 Jan. 2018 In effect, metadata helps turn data into intelligence by making it searchable. Sharon Weinberger, Popular Mechanics, "How ESPN Taught the Pentagon to Handle a Deluge of Drone Data," 11 June 2012

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'metadata.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of metadata

1983, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about metadata

Listen to Our Podcast about metadata

Statistics for metadata

Last Updated

15 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for metadata

The first known use of metadata was in 1983

See more words from the same year

Comments on metadata

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to express emotion in a dramatic way

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!