[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.
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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- a series of observations, measurements, or facts; information
- Also called: information computing the information operated on by a computer program
C17: from Latin, literally: (things) given, from dare to give
Although now often used as a singular noun, data is properly a plural
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 predata
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.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper