Definition of datum in US English:



  • 1A piece of information.

    See also data
    • ‘Statistics are used naively at best: the datum that gunpoint robberies rose 53 percent between April and November of 2001 is almost certainly a random fluctuation and not by itself useful to the argument.’
    • ‘The time to resume operations is a key datum in probabilistic risk assessment.’
    • ‘Once overboard, the buoyant mine and its sinker separated but were held together by a chain set to the requisite length (for which accurate chart datum was required).’
    • ‘A key datum for safe operation of on-track equipment and locomotives on railroad tracks is knowledge of which track a vehicle or locomotive is on.’
    • ‘As noted above, multiple lines of evidence (‘total’ evidence) are preferable to dependence upon a single datum or technique.’
    1. 1.1 An assumption or premise from which inferences may be drawn.
      • ‘Rather, Quine and Putnam take application as a fact - a sort of philosophical datum - and draw ontological and semantic conclusions about mathematics.’
      • ‘The deterministic aspect of divine rule in Daniel is of one piece with divine determinism that permeates the Bible - and that appears to be a theological datum.’
      • ‘Religious experience is the starting-place of all theology, the most basic datum with which the theologian has to work.’
      • ‘Nietzsche's datum is very unlike that found in any other philosopher, since it gives primacy to our aesthetic experience, normally low on the list of philosophical priorities, when it figures at all.’
      • ‘The claim that there is no analytic entailment from any natural property to any moral property is simply Hume's Law - a datum often supported through use of the open question argument.’
      proposition, assumption, hypothesis, thesis, presupposition, postulation, postulate, supposition, presumption, surmise, conjecture, speculation, argument, assertion, belief, thought
      View synonyms
  • 2A fixed starting point of a scale or operation.

    • ‘Thus, an object's provenience can be stated as being 30m north, 22m east, and 3.5m down from an arbitrary fixed point on the site (called the datum point).’
    • ‘Where multiple samples have been taken from a given site, the stratigraphic position of samples is recorded relative to a fixed datum (marker bed, core depth, etc.).’
    • ‘Eustasy is defined as a global sea level change when referenced to a fixed datum, for instance the center of the earth.’
    • ‘This collapse is associated with a vertical negative relief of c.180 m, defined as the maximum downwards deflection below the regional datum.’
    • ‘The dimensions of the proposed carport are 5.5m long by 3.5m wide. The exact height of the carport is unknown as the plans provided do not indicate any levels based on a fixed datum, however is dimensioned to be 2.4m to the ceiling and 3.036m overall.’
    • ‘Such locations consist of a position defined in some horizontal coordinate system and depth with respect to a datum, usually the Earth's surface.’


Mid 18th century: from Latin, literally ‘something given’, neuter past participle of dare ‘give’.