What do you really mean by the term – Statistics?

In the modern age, the word ‘Statistics’ has been in constant use. It conveys a variety of meanings to different people. In reality, the study of statistics provides a set of figures and a set of techniques to achieve precision in the concept and theories of social sciences.

Origin and Development of Statistics

The word statistics has been spelled from the Latin word ‘Status’ Italian word “Statistic” and German word “Statistic”. These all words connote the statesman’s art or the political state. It may be noted that Gottfried Achenwall, is known to have made the use of the word statistics first in 1749.


Later on, in 1770, Barran J.E. Von Bielefeld included a chapter on statistics in his book. “The Element of Erudition” and defined statistics as “the science that teaches us what is the political arrangement of all, the modern states of the known world.”

Definitions of Statistics

The concept of statistics has been defined differently by different economists. However, for the sake of convenience, the various definitions have been clubbed into two groups:

1. Definitions in the plural sense or numerical data.


2. Definitions in the singular sense or statistical method.

Plural Definitions

Plural definitions or numerical data can be defined as under:

According to Yule and Kendall,


“By statistics we mean quantitative data affected to a marked extent by multiplicity of causes.”

According to Bowley,

“Statistics are numerical statements of facts in any department of inquiry, placed in relation to each other.”

According to Achenwall,


“Statistics are a collection of noteworthy facts concerning state, both historical and descriptive.”

However, the above definitions are not very comprehensive to cover all aspects in the plural sense of statistics. Horace Secrets has given a relatively more comprehensive definition:

According to Horace Secrets,

“By statistics we mean aggregate of facts affected to a marked extent by multiplicity of causes, numerically expressed, enumerated or estimated according to reasonable standard of accuracy, collected in a systematic man for a predetermined purpose and placed in relation to each other.”