from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun plural Facts that can be analyzed or used in an effort to gain knowledge or make decisions; information.
  • noun plural Statistics or other information represented in a form suitable for processing by computer.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Plural of datum.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun plural See datum.
  • noun plural a collection of facts, observations, or other information related to a particular question or problem.
  • noun plural (Computers) information, most commonly in the form of a series of binary digits, stored on a physical storage medium for manipulation by a computer program. It is contrasted with the program which is a series of instructions used by the central processing unit of a computer to manipulate the data. In some conputers data and execuatble programs are stored in separate locations.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Plural form of datum: pieces of information.
  • noun uncountable, collectively information.
  • noun A collection of object-units that are distinct from one another.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a collection of facts from which conclusions may be drawn


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin, pl. of datum; see datum.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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


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  • It's a plural noun, dammit! No matter what the teeming ignorant masses might have you believe.

    April 3, 2008

  • I think this is a battle you are destined to lose, s.

    April 4, 2008

  • plethora, if sionnach loses, I lose as well. "Data" is the plural form of "datum".

    April 4, 2008

  • I'm sure plethora knows... he loses with us, I think.

    Hey, there's so much space here! So let's add some useless information... Adeodata (given by God in Latin) was in the past a name typically given by nuns to abandoned babies (it's a female name) in Italy.

    April 4, 2008

  • Yes, I did know that. It just so happens that this is an argument I have given up on.

    April 4, 2008

  • I understand that this particular barn door has been left gaping ajar, leaning rakishly on its ravaged hinges, by the marauding barbarian hordes. But sometimes one just has to voice one's protest, quixotic though it might seem.

    I am pleased to report that each of the dozen or so statisticians that I've trained during my career has been successfully indoctrinated with my visceral resistance to the 'data is' abomination.

    Why do I suddenly feel as if I were some kind of atherosclerotic member of a particularly reactionary Opus Dei cell?

    April 4, 2008

  • Duly tagged. Now, who'll join a campaign for agendum?

    April 4, 2008

  • Sionnach, do you say cherubim? Do you say octopodes? Do you say kine instead of cows? Do you say pease even when there is only one of what a lesser Wordie might call a pea? Where do you draw the line?

    April 5, 2008

  • Rather than howl over the grave of a dead plural, I prefer to see data now as a collective noun which functions as generally singular and occasionally plural, which is a reflection of modern usage. Committee is used this way and I haven't heard too much teeth-gnashing over thataway.

    The committee are ... (we're referring to the members);

    The committee is ... (we're referring to the body as a whole).


    The data are ... (we're referring to the bits of information, the responses to the survey, the individual results, etc.);

    The data is ... (we're referring to, as WordNET suggests, 'a collection of facts').

    As far as this is unfaithful to the roots of the term data I know it's not likely to placate bellowing gramarian frumpmudgeons, but it's not an unworkable arrangement. Would you rather it went the way of stadiums and gave us datums?

    April 5, 2008

  • Bilby, your failure to bracket bellowing grammarian frumpmudgeons ought to cost you significant wordie points.

    April 5, 2008

  • @Seanahan: For the record, where celestial hosts are concerned, I refer to cherubim; if it's just more than one chubby baby, those are cherubs. I draw the line at cows.

    However, your line of questioning misses the point a little bit, as does bilby's superfluous introduction of the term bellowing frumpmudgeon into the discussion. It suggests a need for some kind of foolish mental consistency when thinking about these matters.

    I call fie on that particular hobgoblin. All that I'm doing here is registering a particularly visceral personal aversion to the use of data as a plural noun. Isn't that one of Wordie's major charms - that it provides an outlet where we can blow off steam about our personal peeves? Thus reducing the likelihood that we will be provoked to rudeness or snappish behavior by whatever random instance of language butchery next comes our way.

    I notice split infinitives as well, but I generally don't talk about them in public. Doing so more or less guarantees that someone will then introduce the term 'grammar nazi' into the conversation, then sit back and smirk at their* own cleverness.

    Datums smacks of the nursery, wouldn't you agree, bilby, sweetums?

    * : Some people would object violently to my use of the plural possessive here. God bless 'em, when someone comes up with a workable alternative, I'll be happy to consider it.

    April 5, 2008

  • *sigh*

    I love it when sionnach gets all feisty and bilby hurls ridiculousness. It's like watching the gods on Olympus get into a food fight. :)

    April 5, 2008

  • Did you see that? *points* Did you see the bellowing? Ol' steam-driven sionnach chuffing uphill against, ooh, about 30 years of adverse usage. "I think I can," I heard the engine huffing, "for the data reassure me." Ahh.

    To me the real problem is not really data, but the fact that datum seems to have fallen on its sword. Hence data, poor, overworked, Puerto Rican peasant thing as it is has been thoroughly exploited. I blame Exxon.

    And spare a thought for medium, which is now responsible for both mediums (eg. a conference of spirit mediums shall attempt to channel uselessness), and media (eg. Murdoch bought up all our mass media and turned them into a vicious slurry of right-wing pap).

    C'mon snookata, do you think we'll see it your way in the end, really?

    April 5, 2008

  • *nicks one of reesetee's anaemic-faery-coloured cupcakes and bounces it off chained_bear's snout, ta-ra!*

    April 5, 2008

  • "I call fie on that particular hobgoblin." When a discussion opens with me being referred as teeming ignorant, I feel should respond and attempt to make a logical argument for my choice in words. Arguing is my forte, rhyming with tort, and I don't logically think my choice is in err, rhyming with fur.

    I split infinitives every chance I get. That is not a real rule of English language, it was made up by some stuffy British chap who wanted English to be more like Latin, and "to boldly go" where many have before, "it a proposition up with which I will not put".

    Yes, you have a visceral reaction to this, I understand, I have a visceral reaction to forte, but you can't really criticize people for it, because in one sense, we're both right, and in another, actual sense, they are. I was hoping to stem the visceralness of your dislike with some cold-hearted logic. I guess it didn't work.

    April 5, 2008

  • Do you know that in Latin, plural neuter nouns require the singular form of the verb? This should make everyone happy...

    and cherubim is sexless! :-)

    April 5, 2008

  • Datum has not fallen on its sword, it's been taken over by the GPS community. A datum is a model of the shape of the earth along with the starting point for the grid. The plural in this sense is "datums".

    "GPS data" refers to the coordinates (latitude, longitude and altitude) specifying position or route. "GPS datums" refers to the different shape models one might choose (usually preloaded into the GPS). Coordinates recorded in one datum but displayed in another can give position errors of as much as a kilometer.

    April 5, 2008

  • Bilby, whose cupcakes are you calling anaemic-faery-coloured? ;-)

    April 6, 2008

  • WARNING: Imminent doggerel attack -

    If you're a grammarian frumpmudgeon

    Always storming away in high dudgeon

    Bake some cupcakes instead

    Pass them round. Blue? Or red?

    More effective - and fun - than a bludgeon

    Following own advice, extending a virtual plateful of sticky green-icinged cupcakes to all participants in the discussion, especially the antipodean ones. Because y'all are my people and I love you dearly.

    Fade to the sound of maudlin sobbing and cupcake-chomping ....

    April 6, 2008

  • *rubbing snout and glaring at bilby*

    I don't actually like cupcakes.

    April 6, 2008

  • Maybe if you tried removing the paper...

    April 6, 2008

  • All that hanging out with the bruces and sheilas down under has done nothing for bilby's table manners, it seems.

    Beware of the bear with the chartreuse hair,

    Beware of the bear with the chartreuse hair,

    If you see the bear with the chartreuse hair,

    There's nothing the doctor can do any more.

    April 6, 2008

  • Sh*t, mollusque. Thanks! That makes a big difference. ;)

    April 6, 2008

  • My poor cupcakes. *sigh*

    April 7, 2008

  • The data are in, and they show that I like cupcakes.

    April 7, 2008

  • My brain is bleeding.

    April 7, 2008

  • I could not love this citation page any more if I tried.

    April 8, 2008

  • Me neither.

    March 5, 2009

  • People haven't the data for being wisely in love till they've reached the age when they haven't the least wish to be so.

    --William Dean Howells, 1887, April Hopes

    April 16, 2010