) KEY pl.n. (used with a sing. or pl. verb)
- Factual information, especially information organized for analysis or used to reason or make decisions.
- Computer Science Numerical or other information represented in a form suitable for processing by computer.
- Values derived from scientific experiments.
- Plural of datum.
Latin, pl. of datum
; see datumUsage Note:
The word data
is the plural of Latin datum,
"something given," but it is not always treated as a plural noun in English. The plural usage is still common, as this headline from the New York Times
attests: "Data Are Elusive on the Homeless."
Sometimes scientists think of data
as plural, as in These data do not support the conclusions.
But more often scientists and researchers think of data as a singular mass entity like information, and most people now follow this in general usage. Sixty percent of the Usage Panel accepts the use of data
with a singular verb and pronoun in the sentence Once the data is in, we can begin to analyze it.
A still larger number, 77 percent, accepts the sentence We have very little data on the efficacy of such programs,
where the quantifier very little,
which is not used with similar plural nouns such as facts
implies that data
here is indeed singular.