When talking about histograms, why do we refer to the x-axis as "bin"?

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    $\begingroup$ In vernacular English, a "bin" is a container for holding things. On the horizontal axis, we have a number bins, each of which holds data points that are sufficiently similar. We are essentially sorting the data into box. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson
    Apr 12, 2018 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ google.com/… $\endgroup$
    – whuber
    Apr 12, 2018 at 21:57

1 Answer 1


When wanting to create a histogram of a continuous variable, you first need to split those into bins (sometimes referred to as buckets). Subsequently, this procedure is called binning or bucketing.

So the x-axis of a histogram represents the bins of the continuous variable.

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    $\begingroup$ You could also bin discrete/count data, in whole or in part. For example, number of sexual partners often has a long right tail that researchers top code at X+. Histogram construction is largely a tradeoff between detail and generalization (or variance and bias), and this tradeoff does not depend on the type of data. $\endgroup$
    – dimitriy
    Apr 12, 2018 at 22:33
  • $\begingroup$ Yes you are correct, binning works on discrete data as well, however I wanted to point out that you can't have a histogram from a continuous variable without binning it first. $\endgroup$
    – Djib2011
    Apr 12, 2018 at 22:36

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