Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

byte

[bahyt]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
noun Computers.
  1. adjacent bits, usually eight, processed by a computer as a unit.
  2. the combination of bits used to represent a particular letter, number, or special character.
Show More

Origin of byte

First recorded in 1959; origin uncertain
Can be confusedbight bite byte
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for byte

Historical Examples

  • Dan shalbe a serpent in the waye/ and an edder in the path/ and byte the horse heles/ so yt his ryder shall fall backwarde.

    The First Boke of Moses called Genesis

    William Tyndale


British Dictionary definitions for byte

byte

noun computing
  1. a group of bits, usually eight, processed as a single unit of data
  2. the storage space in a memory or other storage device that is allocated to such a group of bits
  3. a subdivision of a word
Show More

Word Origin

C20: probably a blend of bit 4 + bite
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

Word Origin and History for byte

n.

1956, American English; see bit (n.2). Reputedly coined by Dr. Werner Buchholz at IBM.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

byte in Science

byte

[bīt]
  1. A sequence of adjacent bits operated on as a unit by a computer. A byte usually consists of eight bits. Amounts of computer memory are often expressed in terms of megabytes (1,048,576 bytes) or gigabytes (1,073,741,824 bytes).
Show More
Usage: The word bit is short for binary digit. A bit consists of one of two values, usually 0 or 1. Computers use bits because their system of counting is based on two options: switches on a microchip that are either on or off. Thus, a computer counts to seven in bits as follows: 0, 1, 10 [2], 11 [3], 100 [4], 101 [5], 110 [6], 111 [7]. Notice that the higher the count, the more adjacent bits are needed to represent the number. For example, it requires two adjacent bits to count from 0 to 3, and it takes three adjacent bits to count from 0 to 7. A sequence of bits can represent not just numbers but other kinds of data, such as the letters and symbols on a keyboard. The sequence of 0s and 1s that make up data are usually counted in groups of 8, and these groups of 8 bits are called bytes. In origin byte is simply a respelling of bite, a byte being the number of bits that a computer can take at one bite, so to speak. The spelling change was intended to avoid confusion in written documents, since bite becomes identical to bit if the e at the end of bite is accidentally dropped. To transmit one keystroke on a typical keyboard requires one byte of information (or 8 bits). To transmit a three-letter word requires three bytes of information (or 24 bits).
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

byte in Culture

byte

[(beyet)]

In computer technology, a unit of information made up of bits (often eight bits). The memory capacity of a typical personal computer runs from millions to billions of bytes.

Show More
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.