heard: datapoint

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Wed May 28 19:28:38 UTC 2008

I've heard it in two distinct senses. The first is the datapoint = datum

The second is where datapoint is used to mean one fact, out of several, that
is used, or could potentially be used, to support a conclusion (essentially
a datum, but not necessarily one that can be quantified). "The solution
worked for 80% of the cases" could be a datapoint in this sense when
compared with "the solution is cheap" and "the solution can be implemented
quickly." All three are datapoints that support the conclusion that the
solution in question should be implemented.

I've never heard anything remotely like, "he made a good datapoint." I've
heard, "that's another datapoint to consider", but that's the second sense

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Marc Velasco
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 10:43 AM
Subject: Re: heard: datapoint

>> In the branches of science in which I've been involved,
>> (biochemistry, analytical chemistry), 'datapoint' basically
>> means a datum, i.e., one observation from the several
>> comprising the data of an experiment.  ...


>>  I'm not
>> sure I follow what you mean that it is being used to
>> focus more on the rhetorical quality/context of the
>> statement and not on the data itself.  I'll have to
>> listen for this. Are you certain that the simpler
>> meaning was not intended?

I'm not 100% sure... since they've always been moments in passing.  But,
dealing with data myself, I perked up when I heard it referring not to a
particular datapoint, but to something a little more nebulous, at least to
my ear.

But, I'm pretty sure an approximate usage would be something like "He made a
good datapoint."  So, it seems it refers to the statement, and not to the
data.  Second, it seems to refer to aggregate measures, and not individual
measurements.  E.g. "The solution worked for 80% of the cases."  Third,
place of usage tends not to be the laboratory, or where actual measurement
or analysis takes place, but rather the auditorium or the board room, where
"high level" discussions take place.

It could be a misuse, I suppose, from someone who doesn't know what a
datapoint normally means, and is simply attaching this to any number that
comes up...

I found a web example (

Two existing languages (both available as W3C Notes), PGML and VML, were
> used as a basis for SVG. Ferraiolo pointed out that PGML uses a verbose
> syntax, whilst VML is more compact, and that the VML approach was found to
> be more acceptable:
>    The SVG working group thus had a couple of existing languages to study
> and present to users for feedback. Typically, PGML files would be twice as
> big as the corresponding VML files. Plain and simple, this size increase
> determined to be unacceptable. Thus, SVG's approach to path data has
> out to be more like VML than PGML.
> Ferraiolo's replies, and the resulting discussion, serve as an interesting
> _datapoint_ in the eternal "elements versus attributes" debate.

Ferraiolo's replies... serve as an interesting _datapoint_ in the ...

He could've said Ferraiolo's, measures, F's tests, F's numbers... but he
said replies, so maybe that's what he meant.

Like I said, it seems pretty rare, and presumably it wouldn't've infiltrated
all fields, but I think it may be spreading.

It'd be interesting to know if anyone else is hearing this.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list