Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb, dis·cov·er \dis-ˈkə-vər\

Simple Definition of discover

  • : to see, find, or become aware of (something) for the first time

  • : to show the presence of (something hidden or difficult to see) : to make (something) known

  • : to learn or find out (something surprising or unexpected)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of discover

discovereddiscovering play \-ˈkə-v(ə-)riŋ\

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to make known or visible :  expose b archaic :  display

  3. 2 a :  to obtain sight or knowledge of for the first time :  find <discover the solution> b :  find out <discovered he was out of gas>

  4. intransitive verb
  5. :  to make a discovery

discoverable play \-ˈkə-v(ə-)rə-bəl\ adjective
discoverer play \-ər-ər\ noun

Examples of discover in a sentence

  1. Christopher Columbus discovered the New World in 1492.

  2. Several new species of plants have recently been discovered.

  3. It took her several weeks to discover the solution.

  4. The tests have discovered problems in the current design.

  5. She soon discovered what had been going on.

Origin of discover

Middle English, from Anglo-French descoverir, descovrir, from Late Latin discooperire, from Latin dis- + cooperire to cover — more at cover

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of discover

discover, ascertain, determine, unearth, learn mean to find out what one did not previously know. discover may apply to something requiring exploration or investigation or to a chance encounter <discovered the source of the river>. ascertain implies effort to find the facts or the truth proceeding from awareness of ignorance or uncertainty <attempts to ascertain the population of the region>. determine emphasizes the intent to establish the facts definitely or precisely <unable to determine the origin of the word>. unearth implies bringing to light something forgotten or hidden <unearth old records>. learn may imply acquiring knowledge with little effort or conscious intention (as by simply being told) or it may imply study and practice <I learned her name only today> <learning Greek>.

DISCOVER Defined for Kids


verb dis·cov·er \di-ˈskə-vər\

Definition of discover for Students


  1. :  to find out, see, or learn of especially for the first time :  find <Scientists have discovered a new species.> <She discovered a hole in her shirt.>

discoverer noun

Law Dictionary


transitive verb dis·cov·er

Legal Definition of discover

  1. 1 :  to find out about, recognize, or realize for the first time <when the victim discovers the fraud> — see also discovery rule

  2. 2a :  to make the subject of discovery b :  to learn of or obtain (information) through discovery

discoverable adjective

Seen and Heard

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


to dishevel or rumple

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

soothe disapprove reduce perplex
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.