Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.


/me't*-day`t*/, or combinations of /may'-/ or (Commonwealth) /mee'-/; /-dah`t*/ (Or "meta data") Data about data. In data processing, meta-data is definitional data that provides information about or documentation of other data managed within an application or environment.

For example, meta-data would document data about data elements or attributes, (name, size, data type, etc) and data about records or data structures (length, fields, columns, etc) and data about data (where it is located, how it is associated, ownership, etc.). Meta-data may include descriptive information about the context, quality and condition, or characteristics of the data.

Not to be confused with Metadata.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


(1) (The Metadata Company, LLC, Long Beach, CA, Formerly Metadata Information Partners, Metadata is a software firm offering a variety of data management products and services. In 1986, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the company incontestable status for the Metadata trademark. Whenever the term is used generically in this encyclopedia (definition #2 below), it is spelled with a dash (meta-data).

(2) (meta-data) Data that describes other data. For example, data dictionaries and repositories provide information about the data elements in a database (see data dictionary). Digital cameras store meta-data in the image files that include the date the photo was taken along with camera settings (see EXIF). Digital music files contain meta-data such as song title and artist name (see ID3 tag). Meta-data are stored in an HTML page (Web page) to help search engines define the page properly, and most especially, make it rank higher in the results list (see meta tag).

Meta-data has existed for centuries. Card catalogs and handwritten indexes are examples long before the electronic age. See Meta Data Coalition.

A Glaring Lack of Meta-Data - The Music CD
Music CDs should have been initially designed with meta-data, such as album name, artist and song titles. In the early 1980s, readouts to display such data on a CD player were expensive, and although a few thousand bytes could have easily been reserved for future use, there was no such accommodation. Later on, CDs were played on the computer, and the solution was a circuitous route of searching for titles by track length on the Internet (see CDDB). When meta-data was finally added, there were conflicts in older stand-alone CD players that attempted to play them.

Meta-Data in the Snowden Debacle
After former CIA employee Edward Snowden leaked top-secret American surveillance programs to the press in May 2013, meta-data came front and center. It was revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) had undertaken massive phone surveillance, and the controversy was about what was recorded: the actual voice conversations or only the meta-data (times and telephone numbers of the calls). Even when voice content is not recorded, the meta-data can be analyzed to determine who might be in contact with suspected terrorists.

Meta-Data in an Image File
A huge amount of meta-data can be stored in an image file. The IPTC Core section (expanded below) is a meta-data standard from the International Press Telecommunications Council for adding creation data.

A Ton More
An image file can be edited to include a huge amount of meta-data to describe the file. DICOM stands for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine.
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
References in periodicals archive ?
After shuffling a bucket all the valid flags are set to true and the counter field in the meta-data is set to zero.
The client extracts features from his signature and creates appropriate meta-data which is employed in the later phase of verification which ensues from the data integrity in the cloud storage.
* We extend the traditional vector space model to effectively rank XML documents based on meta-data.
For an organization looking to build an enterprise level meta-data and data model, a practical strategy may be to start with a high ROI data hot spot or a high visibility data specific project.
The Associated Press and the non-profit Media Standards Trust have unveiled a digital news "microformat" to "effectively encapsulate the content and key meta-data of every news story online," MediaPost reportedFriday.
Users are also forced to added meta-data to documents they upload to SharePoint.
However, this is not to be confused with the Open Data Foundation, which its website describes as "a non-profit organization dedicated to the adoption of global meta-data standards and the development of open-source solutions promoting the use of statistical data." "We focus on improving data and meta-data accessibility and overall quality in support of research, policy making, and transparency, in the fields of economics, finance, healthcare, education, labor, social science, technology, agriculture, development, and the environment," according to the site.
Record Management features such as indexing of information, record retention and deletion schedules, use of standardized meta-data for unambiguous identification and description of stored information will be supported.
* Enhanced queries on spatial proximity and meta-data to provide interactive real-time graphical reports and reduce visual complexity.
The announcement was made at the DAMA International Symposium & Wilshire Meta-data Conference, which is took place March 16-20 in San Diego, Calif.
Moreover, the application generates the appropriate set of meta-data to describe the new learning objects resulting from the assembly process.
She starts with the fundamentals for novices, including basic algorithms and statistics and the characteristics of patterns, then moves on the biopolymers, Bernoulli schemes and Markov, string pattern specifications, algorithms and pattern statistics, motif learning and patterns on meta-data such as permutation patterns and their probabilities, topological motifs, set-theoretic algorithmic tools, expression and partial order motifs.