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 Moriuchi, the Harvard fellow, has spent years tracking the metadata of North Korean Internet users. Ed Caesar, The New Yorker, "The Incredible Rise of North Korea’s Hacking Army," 19 Apr. 2021 This sample contains the messages and other metadata for over 13,600 transactions from March 2020 and over 54,700 from March 2021. David Yanofsky, Quartz, "What we know about the economic recovery from the emoji being used on Venmo," 16 Apr. 2021 Images all have metadata and geotags embedded in them. D'vaughn Bell, Forbes, "Five Best Practices For Increasing Your GMB Local Presence," 6 Apr. 2021 Discogs has exacting standards for the metadata that sellers have to supply in order to list their vinyl for sale on Discogs Marketplace. Bill Rosenblatt, Forbes, "RIAA Revenue Numbers Show That Music Fans Turned To Vinyl During The Pandemic," 28 Feb. 2021 Part of the problem is dark data — unquantified, siloed and untagged data sets that are a side effect of sprawling systems and missing metadata. Forbes, "What's Your Data Really Worth?," 1 Mar. 2021 The metadata creation dates align with the content of the documents. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, "Leaked documents reveal China's mishandling of the early stages of Covid-19," 30 Nov. 2020 According to the photo's metadata, Fuchs took the picture about 5:45 p.m. on July 29, 2018, during one of his early trips to the park. John D'anna, The Arizona Republic, "No one knew who took this viral mystery photo in the Petrified Forest. Now we do," 24 Nov. 2020 Beyond the focusing feature, Apple is also giving the 12 Pro Max access to its new ProRAW file format, which saves all of the image data as well as the processing metadata that comes through the image signal processor. Popular Science, "Planning to buy an iPhone 12 Pro Max? You may want to brush up on your photography skills.," 14 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for metadata

Time Traveler

The first known use of metadata was in 1983

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Statistics for metadata

Last Updated

30 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Metadata.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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