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When something is not estimated, is it correct to say that it is unestimated or non-estimated?

For example, in certain project management techniques, tasks can be "estimated" which means one or more humans have given an estimate on the expected cost, effort, or duration of the task. Here, "estimated" is used as an attribute of the task, so a task is either "estimated" or "not estimated". In some texts, I have seen the expression "unestimated task" (or with a hyphen, "un-estimated") or "nonestimated task" (or with a hyphen, "non-estimated").

Are any of these correct English?

(The context here is software projects, so a sub-question is whether any of these expressions can be considered part of the professional English vocabulary in that field.)

  • either "estimated" nor "not estimated" - shouldn't that be "or", not "nor"? – MrWhite Feb 25 '13 at 17:14
  • @w3d: That's right, I'll edit the question to fix this. – Fabian Fagerholm Feb 25 '13 at 19:40
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In normal use, unestimated is not a word. Non-estimated may be syntactically correct but also doesn't really make much sense.

If you are referring to a industry specific term then potentially anything can be used despite being outside normal use. So it would have to be a word to describe a state — the state of not yet receiving an estimate.

Contrary to the other answer here, I'd say that both suggest the subject is estimable, but has yet to be estimated.

  • Thanks! From this, my main takeaway is to either use non-estimated or to come up with a completely different term. – Fabian Fagerholm Feb 28 '13 at 7:45
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Since it falls into the software area, I will venture an opinion - purely on a gut feeling.

Un-estimated sounds like it can be estimated, or should be estimated, but has not been estimated yet.

Non-estimated sounds like it should probably not be estimated. An example would be a project milestone, review meeting, etc. In oher words, does not need to be estimated.

Just my 2 cents from the software industry trenches!

  • Thanks, it's interesting to see how these words are interpreted. – Fabian Fagerholm Feb 28 '13 at 7:44
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Un-estimated, much like 'undo' or 'unwind', is conceptually the idea of reversing some action. Hence, if one were to have an estimate, for instance, an estimate of 100, re-estimated to 120, and then reversed (for whatever reason) to 100, that would be un-estimating the figure of 120. There is no other single word which conceptually matches this concept, as closely as 'un-estimate'. An explanatory phrase, such as 'the estimate has been reversed' is an explanation, not a term or word. On the other hand, if something has not been estimated at all, that would more accurately be reflected by the term 'non-estimated' or the phrase 'not estimated'. To use 'un' in this context, destabilised the assumption upon which all other 'un' prefixed terms are based on, which is one of reversal.

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