General English

  • noun the number of a day in a month or year, or a day when something will happen or has happened
  • verb to write the date on something


  • verb to put a date on a document


  • noun the current day, month, and year stored on your computer


  • The fruit of the date palm, Phoenix dactylifera, with a yellow skin and brown sweet flesh enclosing a single elongated stone, the whole about 4 cm by 2 cm, which grow in clusters arranged in two rows along a central stalk. Usually traded in the dried form which is sweet and sticky. Popular at Christmas in Europe as a snack and also used to sweeten and flavour cakes.

Information & Library Science

  • verb to record on a document the date when it is written or received


  • noun the anus. Presumably by association with the colour of the fruit, or just possibly from the archaic British rhyming slang ‘date and plum’ meaning bum.
  • noun a stupid, silly or weak person. This rare usage (probably by association with the texture of an over-ripe date) is now nearly obsolete, but was heard until the 1960s, especially in the phrases ‘you soft date’ and ‘you soppy date’. Such phrases now survive only in nursery language.
  • noun a prostitute’s assignation with a client. An item of police slang recorded by the London Evening Standard magazine, February 1993.


  • noun the small sweet brown fruit of the date palm, a staple food of many people in the Middle east

Origin & History of “date”

Date ‘time of an event’ and date ‘fruit’ are distinct words in English, and perhaps unexpectedly the latter (13th c.) entered the language a century before the former. It came via Old French date and Latin dactylus from Greek dáktulos, which originally meant literally ‘finger’ or ‘toe’. The term was originally applied from the supposed resemblance of a date to a little brown finger or toe. Date ‘time’ (14th c.) was acquired from Old French date, a descendant of medieval Latin data, which represented a nominal use of the feminine form of Latin datus, the past participle of the verb dare ‘give’. It originated in such phrases as data Romae ‘given at Rome’, the ancient Roman way of dating letters. (Data ‘information’ (17th c.), on the other hand, is the plural of the neuter form of the past participle, datum.) among the wide range of other English words descended from Latin dare (which can be traced back ultimately to an Indo-European base *-) are antidote (15th c.) (etymologically ‘what is given against something’), condone (19th c.), dado (17th c.) (a borrowing from Italian, ‘cube’), dative (15th c.), donation (15th c.), dice, dowry and endow (both ultimately from Latin dōs ‘dowry’, a relative of dare), edit, and pardon (13th c.).