da·​ta ˈdā-tə How to pronounce data (audio) ˈda- How to pronounce data (audio)
ˈdä- How to pronounce data (audio)
plural in form but singular or plural in construction
often attributive
: 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
: information in digital form that can be transmitted or processed
: information output by a sensing device or organ that includes both useful and irrelevant or redundant information and must be processed to be meaningful
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.

Example Sentences

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
Recent Examples on the Web Nearly one-quarter of the 72 children statewide who died as a result of motor vehicle crashes last year were Native American or Alaska Native, the report's data shows. Stephanie Innes, The Arizona Republic, 26 Nov. 2022 Republicans have tapped into Kemp’s political machine which includes door-knocking, phone banking and data analytics. Ken Tran, USA TODAY, 26 Nov. 2022 But levels of new cases are rising in 12 of 16 of the counties, another CDC data set shows. The Enquirer, 26 Nov. 2022 By comparison, Ford sold about 28,000 Mustang Mach-E electric cars over the same period, while Tesla sold roughly 140,000 each of its models 3 and Y, according to data provider Wards Intelligence. Jeanne Whalen, Washington Post, 26 Nov. 2022 These companies had brought in over $750 million in advertising just in 2022, said the report, which relied on data current as of November 21. Li Cohen, CBS News, 25 Nov. 2022 The outbreak began in February and infected poultry and non-poultry birds in 46 states, USDA data shows, per Reuters. Tracey Harrington Mccoy, Peoplemag, 25 Nov. 2022 That said, data points about what their decisions might be are starting to trickle out as the final week of the regular season comes. Kevin Reynolds, The Salt Lake Tribune, 25 Nov. 2022 Yoohyun Jung is a data reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle. Gregory Thomas, San Francisco Chronicle, 25 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


Latin, plural of datum — see datum

First Known Use

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of data was in 1646

Dictionary Entries Near data

Cite this Entry

“Data.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


noun singular or plural

da·​ta ˈdāt-ə How to pronounce data (audio) ˈdat- How to pronounce data (audio)
 also  ˈdät-
: facts about something that can be used in calculating, reasoning, or planning
: information in numerical form for use especially in a computer

Medical Definition

: 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

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