meta·​da·​ta | \ ˌme-tə-ˈdā-tə How to pronounce metadata (audio) , -ˈda- also -ˈdä-\

Definition of metadata

: data that provides information about other data

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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

The trouble with meetings To figure out why the workers in Microsoft’s device unit were so dissatisfied with their work-life balance, the organizational analytics team examined the metadata from their emails and calendar appointments. Neil Irwin, New York Times, "How Data Can Help You Win in the Winner-Take-All Economy," 15 June 2019 Astute observers downloaded the video and noticed some metadata that indicates Larian might be teasing Baldur’s Gate III instead—despite categorically denying that fact six months ago. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Iron Maiden sues 3D Realms, Larian teases Baldur's Gate III," 31 May 2019 But Facebook owns WhatsApp—and can extract some metadata from its users—which defeats the purpose of trying to rid you life of the social network. Louise Matsakis, WIRED, "Deleting Facebook? Here Are the Best Alternatives For What You'll Miss," 22 Mar. 2018 If a streaming service doesn’t have more than three or so fields of dynamic metadata, any browsing or searching you do will be rendered largely pointless. Corey Seymour, Vogue, "Idagio—The Spotify For Classical Music—Has Changed My Life," 15 May 2019 Terminating the program, which was exposed publicly by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden nearly six years ago, would represent a stunning concession from a spy agency that once argued the collection of call metadata was vital... Dustin Volz, WSJ, "NSA Weighs Ending Phone Surveillance Program Exposed by Snowden," 4 Mar. 2019 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

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.

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First Known Use of metadata

1983, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

21 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for metadata

The first known use of metadata was in 1983

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