I'm not even sure if "numerifying" is a word (my computer's spell check program doesn't seem to think so). But I'm looking for a word that describes translating experiences into numbers for comparison.

(I'm describing the QUALY, a tool used by utilitarians and welfare economists to compare benefits of various different courses of action that ordinarily would have been thought of as apples and oranges - for instance, curing blindness and curing AIDS.)

  • 1
    What's the problem with "numbering"?
    – JEL
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 21:21
  • 1
    Numbering evokes giving (usually consecutive) numbers to a set of discrete items.
    – AVM
    Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 7:33
  • 1
    That's something that should be in the question. Likewise, "translating experiences into numbers for comparison" indicates nothing more than assigning a numerical code, and should be fleshed out if that's not what you intend. What, for example, is the rationale for the number assignment? Is the assignment arbitrary or based on some system of value?
    – JEL
    Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 8:25

6 Answers 6


numerify doesn't seem like a "real" word to me (sorry!)

quantify may do the trick:

  1. to determine or express the quantity of; indicate the extent of; measure

  2. to express in quantitative terms, or as a numerical equivalent

    --Webster's New World College Dictionary

edited: I like the 2nd definition here better than the one I originally posted

  • Thank you! Quantifying certainly works. I wonder if there's a word that more closely evokes what I'm trying to get at with "numerifying", though.
    – AVM
    Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 7:35

There are two, essentially unrelated, processes of converting things into numbers, and you should use different terminology for each, as they are different processes.

The first kind of conversion relies on, essentially independent, mapping of described experiences into numbers. This is usually known as coding and produces codes. A good example are library classification. The only properties of numbers which are exploited here is their endless availability (you're not going to run out of numbers), their lack of ambiguity as pure names[1],the availability of ranges, and their ability to be ordered. Beyond the library, this is a common technique in, for example, handling free text responses to questionnaires and is common in some branches of the social sciences.

The second kind of conversion considers the experience to be a quantity -- an analogue to some continuous quantity -- and is known as quantifying. Here, many more properties of numbers are potentially used and issues such as precision, accuracy, linearity, bias, distribution, and so on, arise when developing the quantifying method. With a quantity, many more of the properties of numbers may be applied, such as multiplication, addition, and so on to produce at least superficially meaningful answers (which can be beguiling).

For example three lots of four Quality-Adjusted Life Years is twelve Quality Adjusted Life-Years which an advocate of this technique would consider more than superficially meaningful. However no one at all would claim in Dewey library classification that two time the New Testament (225) was Romanian (550).

In discussing QUALY, and more generally in the dismal science, you are dealing with quantifying. However, unless you are an un-questioning advocate of utilitarianism (sadly, almost a creed among economists), you will presumably need to be aware of and describe alternative techniques of converting to numbers for processing that are better described as coding.


I think valuation/valuate could be used, as in

Ecosystem valuation

Ecosystem valuation is a widely used tool in determining the impact of human activities on an environmental system, by assigning an economic value to an ecosystem or its ecosystem services.

(From wikipedia)


A very rare word which you are looking for is probably numericize / numericise.

Wiktionary defines it as:

To represent using numbers; to digitize.


Bean-counting. A bean counter is "a person, such as an accountant or financial officer, who is concerned with quantification, especially to the exclusion of other matters. -- Wiktionary



That should work for me.

  • 1
    This post would be improved by explaining why you suggest this term, for example, by providing a dictionary definition or examples in the wild. I encourage you take the site tour and review the help center for additional guidance. Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 13:23
  • I'm a computer programmer, when we "enumerate" we assign an arbitrary numeration to some abstraction of the ideas we have to represent (which in this case could be the "experiences" the author of the post was asking) to find them easily, compare them easily and so on. Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 18:15
  • Enumerate means to count; the question asks for a synonym for numeric comparisons.
    – deadrat
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 10:06

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