Definition of discern
1a : to detect with the eyes discerned a figure approaching through the fogb : to detect with senses other than vision discerned a strange odor
3 : to come to know or recognize mentally unable to discern his motives
: to see or understand the difference
discernibleor less commonly
discernableplay \-ˈsər-nə-bəl, -ˈzər-\ adjective
discerniblyplay \-blē\ adverb
Examples of discern in a Sentence
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
The ability to discern value at a glimpse, to sift the useful out of the rejected with as little expenditure of energy as possible, is the great talent of the scavenger. —Matthew Power, Harper's, December 2006
Astronomers are delighted to have found 19 galaxies that appear to be bent out of shape. The distorted images are cosmic mirages, arcs or rings of light created when the gravity of a massive foreground object bends and magnifies the light from a galaxy lying behind it. Albert Einstein predicted the effect … in 1936, but telescopes at the time weren't powerful enough to discern it. —R. Cowen, Science News, 21 Jan. 2006
Despite the layers of ironic hesitation, the reader soon discerns that the emotions informing the book are raw and, more importantly, authentic. —Publishers Weekly, 13 Dec. 1999
The reasons behind this sudden change are difficult to discern.
barely able to discern the garden gate through the mist
Recent Examples of discern from the Web
Illustrations throughout by Zohar Lazar The next frontier for adventurous—yet discerning—travelers? Vacationing in the buff.
At a time when distrust in journalistic institutions is swelling, technology that further muddies the ability to discern what’s real is rapidly advancing.
And this data is not enough to discern the changing prevalence of drug-resistant infections in many of those reporting countries.
Bannon is astute enough to discern Trump’s desires and heedless enough to carry it out.
But close observers of Trump’s thinking have discerned some method to his apparent madness:
Discerning between a run and a pass play before the snap may come down to subtle clues, such as offensive linemen’s fingers.
Discerning fans should listen to everything, but the money most of all.
There was no detective work needed to discern a population boom.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'discern.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
DISCERN Defined for Kids
Definition of discern for Students
: to see, recognize, or understand something
Seen and Heard
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