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

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 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

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

23 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for metadata

The first known use of metadata was in 1983

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