plural noun Mathematics.
all the nonzero digits of a number and the zeros that are included between them or that are final zeros and signify accuracy: The significant digits of 0.01230 are 1, 2, 3, and the final 0, which signifies accuracy to five places.
bowl cutRead more in this article about some frequently asked questions and fun facts related to our definitions.
Our Favorite Viral Optical Illusions ExplainedWhat’s not to love about optical illusions? The magical, mysterious, mind-bending visuals never cease to evoke a series of ‘“woahs” and “what the’s--.” Words usually fail to describe them. Yet, one common word that is often used is trippy, hearkening to the psychedelic days of the ‘60s and ‘70s. But, believe it or not, the first optical illusions emerged far earlier, in the 5th century B.C. They even had Aristotle bumfuzzled! From Medieval Latin, opticus means “of sight or seeing” and ludere, “to play”—thus, optical illusions are visuals that essentially “play with one’s sight.” Because these images are invested with such mysterious power, we think optical illusions are some of the coolest didactic devices known to man. They’re brilliant to look at, and they teach us to question everything. So, to honor these powerful images, we want to share with you their proper names—because, honestly, trippy only holds up in the basement. Get your brains and eyeballs ready. They will be boggled.
Origin of significant digits
First recorded in 1920–25
Also called significant figures.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for significant figures
esp US significant digits
the figures of a number that express a magnitude to a specified degree of accuracy, rounding up or down the final figure3.141 59 to four significant figures is 3.142
the number of such figures3.142 has four significant figures Compare decimal place (def. 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
Science definitions for significant figures
[ sĭg-nĭf′ĭ-kənt ]
The digits in a decimal number that are warranted by the accuracy of the means of measurement. Significant digits are all the numbers beginning with the leftmost nonzero digit, or beginning with the first digit after the decimal point if there are no nonzero digits to the left of the decimal point, and extending to the right. For example, 302, 3.20, and 0.023 all have three significant digits.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.