While digital refers to something that can be manipulated by the fingers (called "digits"), it also is a type of electronic signal that uses a binary code (a system using numbers, or "digits") to transmit information.

The Latin digitus means "finger or toe," so it makes sense that by adding the suffix -al, which means "being like," we get the adjective digital, "fingerlike." The idea of the word referring to numerals began around 1938, soon becoming vital in computers. It's easy to imagine the connection between fingers and numbers, as the first mathematical "calculators" were probably fingers and toes. Digital recording appeared in 1960 to challenge analog, soon becoming the broadcasting standard for clearer signals.

Definitions of digital
  1. adjective
    relating to or performed with the fingers
    digital examination”
  2. adjective
    displaying numbers rather than scale positions
    digital clock”
    digital readout”
  3. adjective
    of a circuit or device that represents magnitudes in digits
    digital computer”
    see moresee less
    analog, analogue, linear
    of a circuit or device having an output that is proportional to the input




Cite this entry
  • MLA
  • APA
  • Chicago

Copy citation
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘digital'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
Word Family

Look up digital for the last time

Close your vocabulary gaps with personalized learning that focuses on teaching the words you need to know.

VocabTrainer -'s Vocabulary Trainer