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.
Also called significant figures.
Origin of significant digits
First recorded in 1920–25
Words nearby significant digits
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
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
Scientific 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.