descry was our Word of the Day on 03/08/2008. Hear the podcast!
Examples of descry in a sentence
we couldn't descry the reasons for his sudden departure
could just descry the ship coming over the horizon
Did You Know?
With descry and the more common decry ("to express strong disapproval of"), we have a case of linguistic double-dipping. That is, English borrowed from the same French root twice. Both words ultimately come from the Old French verb decrier, meaning "to proclaim" or "to decry." English speakers borrowed the term as descry in the 14th century and used it to mean "to proclaim" or "to spy out from a distance" (as a watchman might) and eventually simply "to catch sight of" or "discover." Meanwhile, in French, descrier itself developed into the modern French décrier ("to disparage, to decry"). English speakers borrowed this word as decry in the 17th century. Be careful not to confuse descry and decry. They may be close relatives, but in modern English they have distinct meanings.
Origin and Etymology of descry
Middle English descrien to proclaim, reveal, from Anglo-French *descrier, alteration of Old French decrier — more at decry
First Known Use: 14th century
Definition of descry
: discovery or view from afar
First Known Use of descry
Seen and Heard
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