Example with a context (Java: A Beginner's Guide, 6th Edition by Herbert Schildt):

An array is a collection of variables of the same type, referred to by a common name. In Java, arrays can have one or more dimensions, although the one-dimensional array is the most common. Arrays are used for a variety of purposes because they offer a convenient means of grouping together related variables. For example, you might use an array to hold a record of the daily high temperature for a month, a list of stock price averages, or a list of your collection of programming books.

What does a record really mean in the context of that sentence? Actually, I don't think I understand perfectly well what the whole thing is really trying to say. Well, I do understand that it's about collecting temperature data over a period of one month, but as far as comprehension goes, what exactly it is that the author is trying to say is something that completely escapes me. What kind of record is he talking about? The records that a sports star like Usain Bolt has or records that hold information about an individual such as criminal records, employee records et cetera?

  • I think it could help if you think of this "record" as a transcript of what happened. Jun 2, 2015 at 14:09
  • 2
    The array would span one month, as you say. The rest of the bolded part just means that each spot in the array would hold the high temperature for each day. The latter meaning of “record” that you mention is the one the author wants. Jun 2, 2015 at 14:59

2 Answers 2

  1. The most basic meaning of record is "something recorded": for instance, a note you take of money you spend, or distance you travel, or notable events—or the highest or lowest temperature reached on a specific day at a specific place.

  2. Record may also be used for a list of such records, a "record of records". You might, for instance, speak of "keeping a record" of each day's highest temperature over a period of days or weeks or years.

  3. Finally, record may be used more restrictively to speak of the highest (or lowest, or fastest, or biggest) individual record in such a list of records—the sort of record held by Usain Bolt.

Your example uses record in sense 2: a list of the highest temperatures reached on each day for a month.

  • 1
    The author could have avoided this confusion by saying, "The recorded daily high temperatures for a month." Because a "record high" is a common term, referring to the highest temperature ever recorded on a particular day in a particular location, I can understand (and even share) the O.P.'s confusion. (I mean, it's clear now, but I had to go back and read the sentence again before I completely understood what was being said.)
    – J.R.
    Jun 2, 2015 at 16:27

A record in this context basically means a list.

Dictionary.com's 13th meaning of record (as a noun):

a report, list, or aggregate of actions or achievements

You could rephrase it to use list as in the other examples in the sentence, but it seems to me that the author chose to vary the terms a bit to avoid sounding too repetitive.

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