Enumeratio (Enumeration)

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Enumeratio is a rhetorical term for the listing of details—a type of amplification and division. Also called enumeration or dinumeratio.

In A History of Renaissance Rhetoric 1380-1620 (2011), Peter Mack defines enumeratio as a form of "argumentation, in which all the possibilities are set out and all but one are eliminated."

In classical rhetoric, enumeratio was considered part of the arrangement (dispositio) of a speech and was often included in the peroration (or closing part of an argument).


From the Latin, "counting up"

Examples and Observations

  • Enumeratio in Speeches
    "[W]hen we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men, and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'"
  • Enumeratio and Division
    "[E]numeratio . . . partitions a subject into its adjuncts or features. If numbering of the parts is added to the division, labeling a first, second, and third item in a series, the figure is eutrepismus (Joseph 1947, 11-114). Division as an argumentative strategy . . . can be stretched across paragraphs or pages, but to be stylistically visible or figured, any of these divisions must produce either a list of words or phrases in a single sentence constituent or contiguous predictions in a short stretch of text."
  • Enumeratio in an Essay by Jonathan Swift
    "[A]mong such as deal in multitudes of words, none are comparable to the sober deliberate talker, who proceedeth with much thought and caution, maketh his preface, brancheth out into several digressions, findeth a hint that putteth him in mind of another story, which he promiseth to tell you when this is done; cometh back regularly to his subject, cannot readily call to mind some person's name, holding his head, complaineth of his memory; the whole company all this while in suspense; at length says, it is no matter, and so goes on. And, to crown the business, it perhaps proveth at last a story the company hath heard fifty times before; or, at best, some insipid adventure of the relater."
  • Negative Enumeration
    "He believed he was a newspaper reporter, yet read no paper except The Mockingburg Record, and so managed to ignore terrorism, climatological change, collapsing governments, chemical spills, plagues, recession and failing banks, floating debris, the disintegrating ozone layer. Volcanoes, earthquakes and hurricanes, religious frauds, defective vehicles and scientific charlatans, mass murderers and serial killers, tidal waves of cancer, AIDS, deforestation, and exploding aircraft were as remote to him as braid catches, canions and rosette-embroidered garters. Scientific journals spewed reports of mutant viruses, of machines pumping life through the near-dead, of the discovery that the galaxies were streaming apocalyptically toward an invisible Great Attractor like flies into a vacuum cleaner nozzle. That was the stuff of others' lives. He was waiting for his to begin."




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Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "Enumeratio (Enumeration)." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/what-is-enumeratio-or-enumeration-1690603. Nordquist, Richard. (2021, February 16). Enumeratio (Enumeration). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-enumeratio-or-enumeration-1690603 Nordquist, Richard. "Enumeratio (Enumeration)." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-enumeratio-or-enumeration-1690603 (accessed March 23, 2023).