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[per-sen-tahyl, -til] /pərˈsɛn taɪl, -tɪl/
one of the values of a variable that divides the distribution of the variable into 100 groups having equal frequencies:
Ninety percent of the values lie at or below the ninetieth percentile, ten percent above it.
of or pertaining to a percentile or a division of a distribution by percentiles.
1880-85; percent + -ile
Can be confused
percent, percentage, percentile (see usage note at percent) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for percentile
  • Now consider the top percentile that makes an outsized share of their income through the capital gains tax.
  • percentile is determined by an individual's standing within a comparison group.
  • But, the scores shift from round to round, so focus on the percentile.
  • District percentile rankings varied by demographic groups.
  • People in the top fifth percentile of drinkers had the highest odds for anxiety.
British Dictionary definitions for percentile


one of 99 actual or notional values of a variable dividing its distribution into 100 groups with equal frequencies; the 90th percentile is the value of a variable such that 90% of the relevant population is below that value Also called centile
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 percentile

1885, coined by English scientist Francis Galton (1822-1911) from percent + -ile.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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percentile in Science
Any of the 100 equal parts into which the range of the values of a set of data can be divided in order to show the distribution of those values. The percentile of a given value is determined by the percentage of the values that are smaller than that value. For example, a test score that is higher than 95 percent of the other scores is in the 95th percentile.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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