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[dey-tuh, dat-uh, dah-tuh] /ˈdeɪ tə, ˈdæt ə, ˈdɑ tə/
a plural of datum.
(used with a plural verb) individual facts, statistics, or items of information:
These data represent the results of our analyses. Data are entered by terminal for immediate processing by the computer.
(used with a singular verb) a body of facts; information:
Additional data is available from the president of the firm.
Related forms
predata, noun
Can be confused
data, datum (see usage note at the current entry)
Usage note
Data is a plural of datum, which is originally a Latin noun meaning “something given.” Today, data is used in English both as a plural noun meaning “facts or pieces of information” (These data are described more fully elsewhere) and as a singular mass noun meaning “information”: Not much data is available on flood control in Brazil. It is almost always treated as a plural in scientific and academic writing. In other types of writing it is either singular or plural. The singular datum meaning “a piece of information” is now rare in all types of writing. In surveying and civil engineering, where datum has specialized senses, the plural form is datums.


[dey-tuh m, dat-uh m, dah-tuh m] /ˈdeɪ təm, ˈdæt əm, ˈdɑ təm/
noun, plural data
[dey-tuh, dat-uh, dah-tuh] /ˈdeɪ tə, ˈdæt ə, ˈdɑ tə/ (Show IPA),
for 1–3, datums for 4, 5.
a single piece of information, as a fact, statistic, or code; an item of data.
  1. any fact assumed to be a matter of direct observation.
  2. any proposition assumed or given, from which conclusions may be drawn.
Also called sense datum. Epistemology. the object of knowledge as presented to the mind.
Compare ideatum.
Surveying, Civil Engineering. any level surface, line, or point used as a reference in measuring elevations.
Surveying. a basis for horizontal control surveys, consisting of the longitude and latitude of a certain point, the azimuth of a certain line from this point, and two constants used in defining the terrestrial spheroid.
Origin of datum
1640-50; < Latin: a thing given, neuter past participle of dare to give
Can be confused
data, datum (see usage note at data)
Usage note
See data. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for data
  • The figures for the last years of the mandate are based on continuous collection of data by the department of statistics.
  • States are furiously removing sensitive data from official websites.
  • The firm is one of a growing number of internet start-ups that mine unconventional forms of data to offer financial services.
  • Analyze and discuss the different forms of data on the page.
  • Student-assessment reports feature tables, charts, and shining examples of data in action.
  • In several countries more official data are being issued in raw form so that anybody can use them.
  • In recent years there have been big advances in displaying massive amounts of data to make them easily accessible.
  • Many hard drive failures are caused by worn parts that no longer align properly, making it impossible to read data from the drive.
  • Holographic data-storage works by recording the differences between two beams of laser light.
  • They also made a surprising discovery from the data: the number of standard crayon colors double every 28 years.
British Dictionary definitions for data


/ˈdeɪtə; ˈdɑːtə/
plural noun
a series of observations, measurements, or facts; information
(computing) Also called information. the information operated on by a computer program
Usage note
Although now often used as a singular noun, data is properly a plural
Word Origin
C17: from Latin, literally: (things) given, from dare to give


/ˈdeɪtəm; ˈdɑːtəm/
noun (pl) -ta (-tə)
a single piece of information; fact
a proposition taken for granted, often in order to construct some theoretical framework upon it; a given See also sense datum
Word Origin
C17: from Latin: something given; see data
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for data

1640s, plural of datum, from Latin datum "(thing) given," neuter past participle of dare "to give" (see date (n.1)). Meaning "transmittable and storable computer information" first recorded 1946. Data processing is from 1954.



proper Latin singular of data (q.v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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data in Technology
data, data processing, jargon
/day't*/ (Or "raw data") Numbers, characters, images, or other method of recording, in a form which can be assessed by a human or (especially) input into a computer, stored and processed there, or transmitted on some digital channel. Computers nearly always represent data in binary.
Data on its own has no meaning, only when interpreted by some kind of data processing system does it take on meaning and become information.
For example, the binary data 01110101 might represent the integer 117 or the ASCII lower case U character or the blue component of a pixel in some video. Which of these it represents is determined by the way it is processed (added, printed, displayed, etc.). Even these numbers, characters or pixels however are still not really information until their context is known, e.g. my bank balance is £117, there are two Us in "vacuum", you have blue eyes.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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