[dey-tuh, dat-uh, dah-tuh]


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 formspre·da·ta, noun
Can be confuseddata 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]

noun, plural da·ta [dey-tuh, dat-uh, dah-tuh] /ˈdeɪ tə, ˈdæt ə, ˈdɑ tə/ for 1–3, da·tums 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 confuseddata datum (see usage note at data)

Usage note

See data. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for data

Contemporary Examples of data

Historical Examples of data

  • The conclusions which he draws from these data are summed up by him as follows.

  • "I have had hardly any data to help me in my search," Mr. Bonnithorne continued.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

  • After the data is in we'll try Lieutenant Wilson's skip-bombing tactics.

  • After exhaustive investigation (zero data) he still wondered.

    Zero Data

    Charles Saphro

  • In the first place the data for any detailed knowledge of the subject are not to be had.

    The Negro Farmer

    Carl Kelsey

British Dictionary definitions for data


pl n

a series of observations, measurements, or facts; information
Also called: information computing the information operated on by a computer program

Word Origin for data

C17: from Latin, literally: (things) given, from dare to give


Although now often used as a singular noun, data is properly a plural


noun plural -ta (-tə)

a single piece of information; fact
a proposition taken for granted, often in order to construct some theoretical framework upon it; a givenSee also sense datum

Word Origin for datum

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

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