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
The value of the deal, which has not been previously reported, is impossible to discern from Federal Election Commission filings because the campaign went through a third-party vendor.
The author discerns the poetic even in brutal landscapes and histories, forging musical phrases from conflict.
GMD has yet to be tested against realistic decoys, which would challenge the system’s ability to discern between decoys and nuclear warheads.
Ringo works out of a small shop doing repairs and building world-class instruments for discerning players.
Yet trying to discern the exact succession plan is about as fruitless as trying to guess when Penske will retire.
The bartenders command the dark, smoky room with the no-nonsense authority of French bistro waiters, able to discern orders over the punk-rock jukebox playlist competing with whatever game is on TV.
Having misplaced my copy, however, I am forced to merely report that Cornell researchers have constructed a robo that develops its own method of locomotion, discerns the manner of its construction and learns to repair itself when parts are removed.
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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