Example: Data is nothing until it becomes information, with context.

The above sentence is a bit wordy so I was hoping to find a single word to replace that phrase. I could shorten it to: Data becomes information, with context. But then it loses some meaning.

  • 4
    If you think a sentence is too wordy, one solution is to break it into two (each of which will have fewer words): Without context, data is nothing. With context, it becomes information. Jan 18, 2019 at 15:06
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    I think the problem is not that the sentence is too wordy, It's that the sentence doesn't emphasize the word context enough. If you could find that (possibly non-existent) single word you're looking for, it would fix it. But there are lots of other ways to fix it, as well. Jan 18, 2019 at 15:08

3 Answers 3


The sentence is not too wordy, but it would benefit from rewording. It also seems like you want to stress the importance of "context". There are a variety of words you could use instead of "is nothing" which sounds "unimportant". You might consider other descriptive words like "meaningless", "lies dormant", or "insignificant" to mention a few.

Data is meaningless without it's (proper) context, but it becomes information when the context is applied.

Data lies dormant until it becomes information once the (proper) context is applied.

Data is insignificant until it becomes information. It requires it's (proper) context for meaning.



You could turn your sentence around to emphasize the role of context:

Context turns data into information.

Here's a variant:

Context turns raw data into information.

Or to stay closer to your original structure:

Data alone means nothing. With context, it becomes information.


If you want to keep the use of context (if not actually emphasize it), I would reverse the sentence and say:

Without context, data is only potential information.

Per Merriam-Webster's definition of potential:

1 : existing in possibility : capable of development into actuality
// potential benefits

Although the sentence is reversed, the meaning is still that you need context in order to turn data into actual information. And saying that it's only potential information, means that it's nothing other than that. (In point of fact, data is something without context, just not what you want it to be.)

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