When converting from analog to digital, the analog signal must usually be sampled -- that is, measured or read -- at discrete intervals of time. The length of the interval depends on the application, but is limited by the Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem. The sampling frequency is the inverse of this number: the smaller the interval, the higher the frequency, and, in general, higher frequencies imply higher-quality sampling.
In digital audio, common sampling rates are:
digital video, a different sampling process occurs, this time at the pixel frequency. Some common pixel sampling rates are: