[ soo-bi-tahyz ]
/ 藞su b瑟藢ta瑟z /
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verb (used with or without object), su路bi路tized, su路bi路tiz路ing.Psychology.
to make an immediate and accurate reckoning of (the number of items in a group or sample) without needing to pause and actually count them: for an average adult, the maximum number of such items is generally observed to be six: No one on our team was able to subitize the sets with eight or more triangles.It seems that some people can subitize more proficiently at certain times of the day.
Should you take this quiz on 鈥渟hall鈥 versus 鈥渟hould鈥? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
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Also especially British, su路bi路tise .

Origin of subitize

First recorded in 1945鈥50; from Latin subit(us) 鈥渟udden鈥 or Late Latin subit(膩re) 鈥渢o appear suddenly鈥 (see subito) + -ize
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 漏 Random House, Inc. 2022


What does subitize mean?

To subitize is to identify the number of things in a set simply by quickly looking at them鈥攏ot by counting them one by one.

The practice of subitizing has its roots in psychology, but it is now taught in some preschools and early grades in addition to traditional counting.

Example: Humans can subitize up to seven objects at once without having to count.

Where does subitize come from?

Subitize was introduced in a 1949 journal article by a research team led by psychologist E. L. Kaufman, who credited language professor Cornelia Coulter with coining it. It is most likely formed from a combination of the Latin subit(us), meaning 鈥渟udden鈥 (or the Late Latin subit(膩re), meaning 鈥渢o appear suddenly鈥), and the suffix -ize, which is used to create verbs.

Subitizing has been studied at length and most results show that humans can subitize up to seven items in a single glance. This is done by grouping the objects into sets (of three and four, for example) and then adding those sets together mentally. In the early 1900s, many scholars theorized that subitizing could be more efficient than counting, especially for young children. Substantial research supports the idea that children are very good at subitizing early in life and can even do it before they can count in some cases. However, some research suggests that subitization is more commonly used by children as a method of speeding up the counting process after basic counting has already been learned. Still, children are often taught to subitize in many schools.

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What are some other forms of subitize?

  • subitization (noun)

What are some words that share a root or word element with subitize?聽

What are some words that often get used in discussing subitize?

How is subitize used in real life?

The word subitize is often used in academic and theoretical contexts, but subitizing is also taught to schoolchildren with fun activities and games.



Try using subitize!

True or false?

Subitizing is the same as counting, just faster.

British Dictionary definitions for subitize



/ (藞s蕦b瑟藢ta瑟z) /

psychol to perceive the number of (a group of items) at a glance and without countingthe maximum number of items that can be subitized is about five

Word Origin for subitize

C20: from Latin subitus sudden + -ize
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition 漏 William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 漏 HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012