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[meg-uh-bahyt] /ˈmɛg əˌbaɪt/
noun, Computers.
2 20 (1,048,576) bytes.
(loosely) one million bytes.
Abbreviation: MB.
Origin of megabyte
First recorded in 1965-70; mega- + byte Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for megabyte


(computing) 220 or 1 048 576 bytes Abbreviation MB, mbyte See also mega- (sense 2)
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 megabyte

1972, from mega- + byte.

The Sussex team has run the Forrester/Meadows models more than 1000 times on the UK's most powerful computer (the giant two-megabyte IBM 370/165 at Harwell). ["New Scientist," May 4, 1972]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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megabyte in Science
  1. A unit of computer memory or data storage capacity equal to 1,048,576 bytes (1,024 kilobytes or 220 bytes).

  2. One million bytes.

Our Living Language  : In computer science and industry usage, the prefix mega- often does not have its standard scientific meaning of 1,000,000, but refers instead to the power of two closest to 1,000,000, which is 220, or 1,048,576. The calculation of data storage capacity (measured in bytes) is based on powers of two because of the binary nature of bits (1 byte is 8, or 23, bits). Thus, a megabyte is 1,048,576 bytes, although it is also used less technically to refer to a million bytes. Other numerical prefixes are interpreted similarly. With data transmission rates (measured in bits per second), a bit is considered as a signal pulse, and calculations are generally based on powers of ten. Thus, a rate of one megabit per second is equal to one million bits per second. However, in certain technical contexts, megabit can also refer to 1,048,576 bits. Similarly, the prefix kilo- refers to 1,000 or 210 (1,024); giga- to 1,000,000,000 (one billion) or 230 (1,073,741,824); and tera- to 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) or 240 (1,099,511,627,776).
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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megabyte in Culture
megabyte [(meg-uh-beyet)]

A unit of computer information: one million bytes.

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