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

On a national scale, this leaves hundreds of millions of dollars or more on the table for songwriters and publishers, all because of a lack of metadata and tracking methods. Brian Penick, Billboard, "Five Music Tech Investment Areas You Need to Know (Guest Column)," 5 Sep. 2019 The posts were published alongside metadata that uses publicly available information to share the officer's badge number, their title, salary and status as a police officer. Dakin Andone, CNN, "This group found thousands of offensive Facebook comments by police. Here's what you should know," 20 June 2019 The metadata Greenburg provided to The Republic contained no information about what was discussed in the messages and calls. Lorraine Longhi, azcentral, "Scottsdale school board member alleges private meetings, prompts attorney general's investigation," 18 July 2019 San Diego’s smart streetlamp program started around 2016 to collect metadata from cameras tracking the number of people walking, biking or driving through busy intersections. San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego Police Department ramps up use of streetlamp video cameras, ACLU raises surveillance concerns," 5 Aug. 2019 Carpenter v United States held that obtaining a suspect’s mobile-phone metadata without a warrant also violated his privacy rights. The Economist, "America mulls regulating facial recognition," 11 July 2019 As initially designed, the program sought to collect the metadata of all domestic calls in the U.S. to hunt for links among potential associates of terrorism suspects. Dustin Volz, WSJ, "NSA Improperly Collected U.S. Phone Records a Second Time," 26 June 2019 The start-up had gotten good at analyzing vast amounts of metadata from office productivity software. Neil Irwin, New York Times, "How Data Can Help You Win in the Winner-Take-All Economy," 15 June 2019 But those failures helped shape future projects, showing scientists the need to build larger databases and to incorporate metadata — data about the handwritten data that filled notebooks during the IBP — into their projects. Quanta Magazine, "Imagining Data Without Division," 30 Sep. 2013

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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Statistics for metadata

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for metadata

The first known use of metadata was in 1983

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