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illustration Percentile



Part of speech: noun

Origin: English, 19th century


Each of the 100 equal groups into which a population can be divided according to the distribution of values of a particular variable.


Each of the 99 intermediate values of a random variable that divide a frequency distribution into 100 groups.

Examples of Percentile in a sentence

"As a baby, Melvin was in above the 95th percentile for height, and he remained taller than his schoolmates all the way to graduation."

"With a score of between 1350 and 1400 on the SAT, a student will rank between the 90th and 94th percentiles, meaning they have scored better than between 90% and 94% of other students."

About Percentile

“Percentile” is a word created in English out of several parts. Its basis is the expression “per cent,” which came into English in the 13th century from the Italian “per cento.” This expression is derived from the Latin “per,” meaning “for each,” and “centum,” meaning “hundred.” The addition of the suffix “-ile” indicates the division of that hundred into multiple groups of equal size.

Did you Know?

While “percentage” and “percentile” sound nearly identical, they mean very different things. A percentage is a number out of 100 indicating rate or performance, in which the higher the number, the greater the rate or performance. Percentiles, on the other hand, break any group of data into 100 equally sized segments for easy comparison with other data from the same group. For example, a person who scores 85% on a 100-question test has answered 85 out of 100 questions correctly. A person who scores in the 85th percentile on a test has scored higher than 85% of other people taking the test. As a result, a person taking a very difficult test might score 85% and discover they are within the 97th percentile of test-takers, because more than 97% of other test-takers scored below 85%.

illustration Percentile

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