born-digital
adj. Relating to a document that was created and exists only in a digital format.
born digital v.

Example Citations:
The Bush budget proposal included $20 million for the NARA's Electronic Records Archives, the program through which the agency is trying to preserve digital records and make them accessible to future generations. Carlin, 60, says the preservation of 'born-digital' records is his greatest challenge, and he hopes when he leaves the job people will conclude he addressed it effectively.
—William Powers, "National Archives and Records Administration Profiles," The National Journal, June 23, 2001

The report also said the U.S. Copyright Office 'should set new standards for the appropriate formats for the digital materials,' including born-digital information."
—"Agencies," Washington Internet Daily, August 7, 2000

Earliest Citation:
Trouble is, all these bits of information are piling up so fast that hardly anybody is thinking about saving them. By 2000, Forrester Research Inc. estimates, one of every three Americans will be online. What's more, half to three-quarters of the data produced each day will be 'born digital' — that is, it will never have existed on paper.
—Marcia Stepanek, "From digits to dust," Business Week, April 20, 1998

Notes:
As a typical born-digital document, a Word Spy post seems the perfect place to encounter this phrase. And although we've been using digital-only documents for many years, describing them as born-digital is relatively recent, with the adjective showing up around 2000 and the verb appearing around 1998.

Digital thanks to subscriber Carol Hendren for suggesting today's phrase.

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