(1) (meta-data) Data that describes other data. The term may refer to detailed compilations such as data dictionaries and repositories that provide a substantial amount of information about each data element. It may also refer to any descriptive item about data, such as a title in a media file, a group of key words in a written article or hidden tags in a Web page. For example, digital cameras store meta-data in their images that describe the camera settings for that photo (see EXIF). Digital music files contain meta-data such as the song title and artist name (see ID3 tag). Meta-data are often stored in an HTML page (Web page) to help it rank high in search engine results (see meta tag).|
Meta-data has existed for centuries. Card catalogs and handwritten indexes are examples long before the electronic age. See meta tag, data dictionary, repository and Meta Data Coalition.
(2) (The Metadata Company, Brentwood, TN, www.metadata.com). Formerly Metadata Information Partners, it is a software firm specializing in data management products as well as providing consulting and custom information systems to the healthcare and government industries. Although the term "metadata," spelled the same with lower case "m," is widely used to refer to data about data (see definition #1 above), the company trademarked the word in 1986 and was granted "incontestable" status in 1991.