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From Latin subitus (sudden; unexpected) +‎ -ize, from the feeling of immediately knowing the number of items present.



subitize (third-person singular simple present subitizes, present participle subitizing, simple past and past participle subitized)

  1. (transitive, intransitive, psychology) To judge (the number of objects in a group) rapidly, accurately and confidently without counting them. [from 1949]
    • 2002, Kelly S. Mix; Janellen Huttenlocher; Susan Cohen Levine, Quantitative Development in Infancy and Early Childhood, Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 47:
      Previous researchers have noted a similarity between the set sizes that adults can estimate rapidly, or subitize, and the set sizes that infants can discriminate: both are less than five items. This similarity has led some to suggest that subitizing is []
    • 2016, Jennifer Taylor-Cox, Math Intervention P–2: Building Number Power with Formative Assessments, Differentiation, and Games, Grades PreK–2, Routledge, →ISBN, page 52:
      When students subitize, they know how many because the arrangement is familiar and/or friendly. While recent information about the benefits of teaching subitizing has surfaced (Clements, 1999), early use of the term appeared more than []

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