AskDefine | Define data

Dictionary Definition

data See datumdata n : a collection of facts from which conclusions may be drawn; "statistical data" [syn: information]datum n : an item of factual information derived from measurement or research [syn: data point] [also: data (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



From data, plural of datum (‘that is given’), neuter past participle of dare (‘to give’).


  • (UK, US):
    • , /ˈdeɪtə/, /"deIt@/
    • Rhymes with: -eɪtə
  • (US):
    • , /ˈdætə/, /"d}

Extensive Definition

Data (singular: datum) refers to a collection of natural phenomena descriptors including the results of experience, observation or experiment, or a set of premises. This may consist of numbers, words, or images, particularly as measurements or observations of a set of variables.


The word data is the plural of Latin datum, neuter past participle of dare, "to give", hence "something given". The past participle of "to give" has been used for millennia, in the sense of a statement accepted at face value; one of the works of Euclid, circa 300 BC, was the Dedomena (in Latin, Data). In discussions of problems in geometry, mathematics, engineering, and so on, the terms givens and data are used interchangeably. Such usage is the origin of data as a concept in computer science: data are numbers, words, images, etc., accepted as they stand. Pronounced dey-tuh, dat-uh, or dah-tuh.
Experimental data are data generated within the context of a scientific investigation. Mathematically, data can be grouped in many ways.

Usage in English

In English, the word datum is still used in the general sense of "something given", and more specifically in cartography, geography, geology, NMR and drafting to mean a reference point, reference line, or reference surface. More generally speaking, any measurement or result can be called a (single) datum, but data point is more common Both datums (see usage in datum article) and the originally Latin plural data are used as the plural of datum in English, but data is more commonly treated as a mass noun and used in the singular, especially in day-to-day usage. For example, "This is all the data from the experiment". This usage is inconsistent with the rules of Latin grammar and traditional English, which would instead suggest "These are all the data from the experiment". Many British and UN academic, scientific, and professional style guides (e.g., see page 43 of the World Health Organization Style Guide) request that authors treat data as a plural noun. Nevertheless, it is now usually treated as a singular mass noun in informal usage, but usage in scientific publications shows a strong UK/U.S divide. U.S. usage tends to treat data in the singular, including in serious and academic publishing, although some major newspapers (such as the New York Times) regularly use it in the plural. UK usage now widely accepts treating data as singular in standard English, including everyday newspaper usage at least in non-scientific use. UK scientific publishing usually still prefers treating it as a plural. Some UK university style guides recommend using data for both singular and plural use and some recommend treating it only as a singular in connection with computers.

Uses of data in science and computing

Raw data are numbers, characters, images or other outputs from devices to convert physical quantities into symbols, in a very broad sense. Such data are typically further processed by a human or input into a computer, stored and processed there, or transmitted (output) to another human or computer. Raw data is a relative term; data processing commonly occurs by stages, and the "processed data" from one stage may be considered the "raw data" of the next.
Mechanical computing devices are classified according to the means by which they represent data. An analog computer represents a datum as a voltage, distance, position, or other physical quantity. A digital computer represents a datum as a sequence of symbols drawn from a fixed alphabet. The most common digital computers use a binary alphabet, that is, an alphabet of two characters, typically denoted "0" and "1". More familiar representations, such as numbers or letters, are then constructed from the binary alphabet.
Some special forms of data are distinguished. A computer program is a collection of data, which can be interpreted as instructions. Most computer languages make a distinction between programs and the other data on which programs operate, but in some languages, notably Lisp and similar languages, programs are essentially indistinguishable from other data. It is also useful to distinguish metadata, that is, a description of other data. A similar yet earlier term for metadata is "ancillary data." The prototypical example of metadata is the library catalog, which is a description of the contents of books.

Meaning of data, information and knowledge

The terms information and knowledge are frequently used for overlapping concepts. The main difference is in the level of abstraction being considered. Data are of highest level, information is next, and finally, knowledge is of the lowest level among all three. In other words, one can call both information and knowledge as data, not vice versa. However, in recent interdisciplinary research a few independent specializations of these terms have been proposed....
Information as a concept bears a diversity of meanings, from everyday usage to technical settings. Generally speaking, the concept of information is closely related to notions of constraint, communication, control, data, form, instruction, knowledge, meaning, mental stimulus, pattern, perception, and representation.


data in Afrikaans: Data
data in Arabic: بيانات
data in Azerbaijani: Verilənlər
data in Belarusian: Даныя
data in Bosnian: Podatak
data in Czech: Data
data in Danish: Data
data in German: Daten
data in Modern Greek (1453-): Δεδομένα
data in Spanish: Dato
data in Esperanto: Datumo
data in Persian: داده‌ها
data in French: Donnée
data in Korean: 자료
data in Croatian: Podatak
data in Indonesian: Data
data in Italian: Dato
data in Hebrew: נתונים
data in Hungarian: Adat
data in Macedonian: Податок
data in Dutch: Gegeven
data in Japanese: データ
data in Polish: Dane
data in Portuguese: Dados
data in Russian: Данные
data in Slovenian: Podatek
data in Serbian: Податак
data in Sundanese: Data
data in Finnish: Data
data in Swedish: Data (mönster)
data in Tagalog: Datos
data in Tamil: தரவு
data in Thai: ข้อมูล
data in Vietnamese: Dữ liệu
data in Ukrainian: Дані
data in Wu Chinese: 数据
data in Chinese: 数据

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

ALGOL, COBOL, FORTRAN, Festschrift, a priori principle, account, acquaintance, affirmation, alphabetic data, alphanumeric code, ana, angular data, announcement, anthology, apriorism, aquarium, assembler, assertion, assumed position, assumption, axiom, basis, basis for belief, binary digit, binary scale, binary system, bit, blue book, body, body of evidence, brass tacks, briefing, bug, bulletin, byte, categorical proposition, chain of evidence, chrestomathy, clue, collectanea, collection, command pulses, commands, communication, communique, compilation, compiler, computer code, computer language, computer program, control signals, controlled quantity, corpus, correcting signals, datum, details, directory, dispatch, documentation, enlightenment, error, error signals, essential facts, essentials, evidence, exhibit, experience, expertise, fact, facts, factual base, factual information, familiarity, familiarization, feedback pulses, feedback signals, figures, film data, first principles, florilegium, foundation, fund, gen, general information, ground, grounds, grounds for belief, guidebook, handout, hard information, hexadecimal system, holdings, hypothesis, hypothesis ad hoc, incidental information, indication, info, information, input data, input quantity, instruction, instructions, intelligence, intimacy, item of evidence, ken, know-how, knowing, knowledge, lemma, library, light, machine language, major premise, manifestation, mark, material grounds, materials, matter, menagerie, mention, message, minor premise, multiple messages, muniments, museum, mute witness, noise, notice, notification, numeric data, octal system, oscillograph data, output data, output quantity, philosopheme, philosophical proposition, piece of evidence, play, polar data, position, postulate, postulation, postulatum, practical knowledge, premise, premises, presentation, presupposition, private knowledge, privity, promotional material, proof, proposition, propositional function, publication, publicity, punch-card data, random data, ratio cognoscendi, raw data, reason to believe, rectangular data, reference quantity, release, relevant fact, report, ruly English, self-knowledge, sidelight, sign, signals, single messages, statement, statistics, sumption, supposal, symptom, technic, technics, technique, text, the data, the details, the dope, the facts, the goods, the information, the know, the particulars, the picture, the scoop, the score, the specifics, the whole story, theorem, thesis, token, transmission, treasure, truth table, truth-function, truth-value, unorganized data, visible-speech data, white book, white paper, word, zoo
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1