metadata

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noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction meta·da·ta \-ˈdā-tə, -ˈda- also -ˈdä-\

Definition of metadata

  1. :  data that provides information about other data

metadata was our Word of the Day on 05/30/2015. Hear the podcast!

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.

First Known Use of metadata

1983


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