discern


dis·cern

verb \di-ˈsərn, -ˈzərn\

Definition of DISCERN

transitive verb
1
a :  to detect with the eyes <discerned a figure approaching through the fog>
b :  to detect with senses other than vision <discerned a strange odor>
2
:  to recognize or identify as separate and distinct :  discriminate <discern right from wrong>
3
:  to come to know or recognize mentally <unable to discern his motives>
intransitive verb
:  to see or understand the difference
dis·cern·er noun
dis·cern·ible also dis·cern·able \-ˈsər-nə-bəl, -ˈzər-\ adjective
dis·cern·ibly \-blē\ adverb

Examples of DISCERN

  1. The reasons behind this sudden change are difficult to discern.
  2. <barely able to discern the garden gate through the mist>
  3. A careful analysis of the Nutrition Facts panels might provide some guidance, but you would have to do a lot of math before you could discern the best choice. —David L. Katz, O, The Oprah Magazine, August 2008

Origin of DISCERN

Middle English, from Middle French discerner, from Latin discernere to separate, distinguish between, from dis- apart + cernere to sift — more at dis-, certain
First Known Use: 14th century

Browse

Next Word in the Dictionary: discerning
Previous Word in the Dictionary: disceptation
All Words Near: discern

Seen & Heard

What made you want to look up discern? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).