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If I use the word "enumerated" in writing, must the list I am enumerating be numeric or can it be bullet points?

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  • Seems to be a matter of style. – Centaurus Jun 9 at 21:21
  • An "enumerated" list is not necessarily labeled with "numbers." the items might be labeled with letters (a), (b), (c), etc or even by symbols representing some notation for comparing the items, for example different numbers of ticks and crosses to represent degrees of "goodness" or "badness", or using different colors like red/yellow/green "traffic light" symbols). – alephzero Jun 10 at 13:18
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    If you're willing to take a queue from LaTeX, enumerated is for a list with numbers, letters, or some such monotonically increasing sequence. The word itemized maybe used for indicating a more bare, unordered set that uses bullet points. – Henry Malinowski Jun 10 at 17:13
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    @HenryMalinowski +1 for the pun – cole Jun 10 at 22:20
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    @HenryMalinowski *cue – RonJohn Jun 11 at 7:59
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Although enumerate has overtones of numeric order because of its etymology, it is not so restricted in its use:

enumerate =

to name things separately, one by one

Cambridge

Similarly, Merriam Webster offers a definition that avoids any numeric content:

enumerate =

to specify one after another : LIST

Merriam Webster

Because bullet points list items separately, the bullets breaking any grammatical link between them, enumerate fits well despite the lack of ordered number to the list.

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    If they are listed you can easily get the number by counting down the list. It doesn't need to be written down. – Peter Jun 10 at 1:08
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    I think the more important connotation is that you are specifying the exact number of items, not just giving selected examples. If you “enumerate” the members of a boy band, there isn’t a specific order, but you’re saying the head count is accurate (even if you leave it to the reader to count them) – bobtato Jun 10 at 2:07
  • It is my intuition that enumerate actually excludes any form of numerical ordering, where the term "number" requires it. – Gregory Currie Jun 10 at 11:23
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    From a computer programming point of view, enumerated items have distinct values although not necessarily numeric ones. I would suspect that anyone with programming experience would therefore expect to be able to refer to an item on an enumerated list by a unique reference. The meaning may therefore evolve towards the IT version. – Enigma Plus Jun 10 at 13:43
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    I was initially leaning towards @EnigmaPlus 's argument; the Cambridge definition you provided, "to name things separately, one by one", seems to imply uniquely labeling the things. But there's an argument to be made that even a bulleted list does that, since items on a bulleted list can be referred to uniquely by their implied labels. ("The first bullet item", "the second bullet item", etc.) Perhaps the numbering doesn't need to be explicit, as long as there's an ordering created. (Crap. Or, more succinctly, "What Peter said.") – FeRD Jun 11 at 11:01

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