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Latin indic-, index, from indicare to indicate


  • 1a : a device (as the pointer on a scale or the gnomon of a sundial) that serves to indicate a value or quantity
b : something (as a physical feature or a mode of expression) that leads one to a particular fact or conclusion : indication
  • 2: a list (as of bibliographical information or citations to a body of literature) arranged usually in alphabetical order of some specified datum (as author, subject, or keyword): as a : a list of items (as topics or names) treated in a printed work that gives for each item the page number where it may be found
b : thumb index
c : a bibliographical analysis of groups of publications that is usually published periodically
d : a list of publicly traded companies and their stock prices
  • 3: a list of restricted or prohibited material; specifically capitalized : a formerly published list of books the reading of which was prohibited or restricted for Roman Catholics by the church authorities
  • 4: plural usually indices : a number or symbol or expression (as an exponent) associated with another to indicate a mathematical operation to be performed or to indicate use or position in an arrangement <3 is the index of the expression ∛5 to indicate the cube root of 5>
  • 5: a character F used to direct attention to a note or paragraph —called also fist
  • 6a : a number (as a ratio) derived from a series of observations and used as an indicator or measure; specifically : index number
b : the ratio of one dimension of a thing (as an anatomical structure) to another dimension


A bibliographic index is a bibliography, an aid to search the literature of, for example, an academic field or discipline (example: Philosopher's Index), to works of a specific literary form (Biography Index) or published in a specific format (Newspaper Abstracts), or to the analyzed contents of a serial publication (New York Times Index). Indexes of this kind are issued in print periodical form (issued in monthly or quarterly paperback supplements, cumulated annually) or online (in which case they are called bibliographic databases). Citations are usually listed by author and subject in separate sections, or in a single alphabetical sequence under a system of authorized headings collectively known as controlled vocabulary, developed over time by the indexing service[1].

"From many points of view an index is synonymous with a catalogue, the principles of analysis used being identical, but whereas an index entry merely locates a subject, a catalogue entry includes descriptive specification of a document concerned with the subject".