Definition of data in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈdadə/
Pronunciation: /ˈdādə/


[treated as singular or plural]
1Facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis. See also datum.
Example sentences
  • Police time will then be spent collecting together the data and providing statistics that indicate the ethnicity of those stopped.
  • These programs are used to edit and prepare the collected data for analysis.
  • Web surveys have reduced the cost of data collection and made data analysis more efficient.
1.1 Computing The quantities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed by a computer, being stored and transmitted in the form of electrical signals and recorded on magnetic, optical, or mechanical recording media.
Example sentences
  • Argote gives the example of old recordings of film or data stored on magnetic tape.
  • The transmitting modem translates digital computer data into analog signals that can be carried over a phone line.
  • The coherent light beams could lead to ultrafast computer circuitry that transmits data optically.
1.2 Philosophy Things known or assumed as facts, making the basis of reasoning or calculation.
Example sentences
  • The roots of relativism lie not in empirical data but in certain epistemological and metaphysical preconceptions.
  • The other is that he had come to make a virtue of the fact that the basic data of knowledge are never certain, but at best merely credible to some degree.
  • How do sense-data differ from other data, e.g. from those of memory or introspection?


In Latin, data is the plural of datum and, historically and in specialized scientific fields, it is also treated as a plural in English, taking a plural verb, as in the data were collected and classified. In modern nonscientific use, however, it is generally not treated as a plural. Instead, it is treated as a mass noun, similar to a word like information, which takes a singular verb. Sentences such as data was collected over a number of years are now widely accepted in standard English.


Mid 17th century (as a term in philosophy): from Latin, plural of datum.

  • Originally recorded as a term in philosophy referring to ‘things assumed to be facts’, it is the Latin plural of datum ‘a piece of information’, literally ‘something given’. Although plural, data is often treated in English English as a singular meaning ‘information’, although Americans and Australians use ‘the data are…’. See also dice. In the Middle Ages letters could be headed with the Latin formula data (epistola)…‘(letter) given or delivered…’ at a certain day or place. From this comes date (Middle English) in the time sense. The date you eat is also Middle English but comes from Greek daktulos ‘finger’, because of the finger-like shape of the plant's leaves.

Words that rhyme with data

cater, crater, creator, curator, debater, delator, dumbwaiter, equator, fascinator, freighter, frustrater, gaiter, grater, gyrator, hater, later, legator, mater, negator, pater, peseta, plater, rotator, skater, slater, stater, tater, traitor, ultimata, understater, upstater, waiter

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: da·ta

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