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

Essential Meaning of data

1 : facts or information used usually to calculate, analyze, or plan something She spent hours reviewing the data from the experiment. They made their decisions based on the survey data. See More ExamplesMuch of the data is inconclusive. The company has access to your personal data.Hide
2 : information that is produced or stored by a computer She works as a data entry clerk. There was too much data for the computer to process. He is an expert in data retrieval. [=finding information stored on a computer]

Full Definition of data

1 : factual information (such as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation the data is plentiful and easily available— H. A. Gleason, Jr. comprehensive data on economic growth have been published— N. H. Jacoby
2 : information in digital form that can be transmitted or processed
3 : information output by a sensing device or organ that includes both useful and irrelevant or redundant information and must be processed to be meaningful

Synonyms for data


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Is data singular or plural?: Usage Guide

Data leads a life of its own quite independent of datum, of which it was originally the plural. It occurs in two constructions: as a plural noun (like earnings), taking a plural verb and plural modifiers (such as these, many, a few) but not cardinal numbers, and serving as a referent for plural pronouns (such as they, them); and as an abstract mass noun (like information), taking a singular verb and singular modifiers (such as this, much, little), and being referred to by a singular pronoun (it). Both constructions are standard. The plural construction is more common in print, evidently because the house style of several publishers mandates it.

Examples of data in a Sentence

Smith, himself a stay-at-home dad and a journalist, mixes accessible summaries of social-science data with anecdotes drawn from interviews with couples in which the men have chosen, or have been compelled by economic circumstance, to become primary caregivers to their children. — Eduardo M. Pealver, Commonweal, 11 Sept. 2009 He plays Chuck Bartowski, a computer-tech expert with the Buy More store's Nerd Herd … who unwittingly becomes a secret agent when government data is downloaded to his brain. — Michael Logan, TV Guide, September 10-16, 2007 As measurements get better and more data pour in, physicists will bring those errors under control and chart exciting new territory. But for many, the wait is a strain. — Charles Seife, Science, 2 May 2003 By studying obscure demographic and economic data, he deduced that the Soviets were in crisis—and spending a far bigger slice of its national income on defense than anyone had suspected. — John Barry et al., Newsweek, 21 May 2001
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Recent Examples on the Web The average had reached as high as 9,800 in January, according to state data. Brieanna J. Frank, The Arizona Republic, 27 Nov. 2021 As of Tuesday, 175 people had been victims of homicide in the city, one more than last year at that time, according to police data. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 26 Nov. 2021 Five out of the 12 nations in the region have a vaccination rate of over 60% of the population, according to data tracked by The Post. Paulina Villegas And Paulina Firozi, Anchorage Daily News, 26 Nov. 2021 To illustrate the point, Kling points to data extracted from a ponderosa pine that started growing in 1583. Arkansas Online, 26 Nov. 2021 More than 23,000 people have already entered the U.K. on largely unseaworthy small boats this year, up from 8,500 in 2020 and just 300 in 2018, according to data compiled by the British Parliament. Fox News, 26 Nov. 2021 Almost one-quarter of Americans struggled to pay their household expenses in the previous week, according to new Census survey data that polled people during the last two weeks of August. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, 26 Nov. 2021 Five out of the 12 nations in the region have a vaccination rate of over 60% of the population, according to data tracked by The Post. BostonGlobe.com, 26 Nov. 2021 South Africa currently is only about 21% fully vaccinated, according to data collected by Reuters, almost a year after the first vaccine was given emergency approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Danielle Echeverria, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Nov. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'data.' 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 data

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for data

Latin, plural of datum — see datum

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Dictionary Entries Near data



data bank

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Statistics for data

Last Updated

29 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Data.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/data. Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for data


noun plural
da·​ta | \ ˈdā-tə How to pronounce data (audio) , ˈda-tə \

Kids Definition of data

1 : facts about something that can be used in calculating, reasoning, or planning
2 : information expressed as numbers for use especially in a computer
Hint: Data can be used as a singular or a plural in writing and speaking. This data is useful. These data have been questioned.


noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction
da·​ta | \ ˈdāt-ə How to pronounce data (audio) , ˈdat- How to pronounce data (audio) , ˈdät- How to pronounce data (audio) \

Medical Definition of data

: factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation the data is plentiful and easily available— H. A. Gleason, Jr. comprehensive data on the incidence of Lyme disease

More from Merriam-Webster on data

Nglish: Translation of data for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of data for Arabic Speakers


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