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 availableH. A. Gleason, Jr.
comprehensive data on economic growth have been publishedN. 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 His weight remained consistent throughout, starting and ending the month at 160 pounds, having fluctuated a little in the middle, and the additional activity didn't affect any other data points like his blood pressure or resting heart rate. Philip Ellis, Men's Health, 22 Mar. 2023 State researchers did not track the same data points that Central Oregon has. oregonlive, 19 Mar. 2023 Having consumer trust is important, but as data breaches accelerate in severity and frequency, digital trust is a delicate commodity. Jodi Daniels, Forbes, 17 Mar. 2023 Methodology Our methodology for evaluating online therapy companies is comprehensive and data-driven. Liz Duszynski-goodman, Peoplemag, 16 Mar. 2023 Brillion's 14-8 edge in turnovers forced might be a big data point in this game, including the big one at the very end. Jr Radcliffe, Journal Sentinel, 16 Mar. 2023 There’s also the fact that T-Mobile has been the victim of several data breaches and hacks over the years, which isn’t exactly reassuring for the Mint customers that will soon be under the T-Mobile umbrella. Emma Roth, The Verge, 15 Mar. 2023 But Monday night was a notable data point when assessing the best path for Smith moving forward. Michael Shapiro, Chron, 15 Mar. 2023 In order to understand the data points behind these factors, the team used a 26-point Mediterranean lifestyle (MEDLIFE) index to measure how well each person in the study adhered to a Mediterranean lifestyle. Kaitlin Sullivan, Health, 15 Mar. 2023 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 26 Mar. 2023.

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


noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction
: factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation
the data is plentiful and easily availableH. A. Gleason, Jr.
comprehensive data on the incidence of Lyme disease

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