discern

verb
dis·​cern | \ di-ˈsərn How to pronounce discern (audio) , -ˈzərn How to pronounce discern (audio) \
discerned; discerning; discerns

Definition of discern

transitive verb

1a : 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

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Other Words from discern

discerner noun

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
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Recent Examples on the Web In trying to discern who had leverage, Morey’s patience may have prevailed for now. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, 12 Oct. 2021 John Lawrence, former chief of staff to Pelosi, said her legislative superpower, developed over decades of work in Congress, is to discern which of her members’ demands are essential and which are wish lists. Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times, 28 Sep. 2021 Machine-learning software can discern the product categories where discounts would justify higher prices elsewhere. Bryan Pearson, Forbes, 7 Sep. 2021 Good luck trying to discern a link between a state’s voting rules, partisan control and minority turnout. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 3 May 2021 Our job is trying to discern what is a true threat and what isn’t. oregonlive, 14 Jan. 2021 But immunity to Covid seems trickier to discern than immunity for those diseases. NBC News, 6 Oct. 2021 Expecting a 911 operator to discern which situations require mental health experts and which require police response could create further problems. Scott Wartman, The Enquirer, 22 Sep. 2021 Even cooler, iOS 15 can discern text in other languages and translate it for you. Yoni Heisler, BGR, 18 Sep. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of discern

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for discern

Middle English discernen "to discriminate, perceive rationally, see," borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French discerner, borrowed from Latin discernere "to separate, divide off, distinguish," from dis- dis- + cernere "to sift, discern, decide, determine" — more at certain entry 1

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Learn More About discern

Time Traveler for discern

Time Traveler

The first known use of discern was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near discern

disceptation

discern

discernible

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Statistics for discern

Last Updated

25 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Discern.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discern. Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for discern

discern

verb
dis·​cern | \ di-ˈsərn How to pronounce discern (audio) , -ˈzərn \
discerned; discerning

Kids Definition of discern

: to see, recognize, or understand something

More from Merriam-Webster on discern

Nglish: Translation of discern for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of discern for Arabic Speakers

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