dis·​cern·​ing di-ˈsər-niŋ How to pronounce discerning (audio)
: showing insight and understanding : discriminating
a discerning critic
discerningly adverb

Examples of discerning in a Sentence

Why should a discerning writer concern himself with such movies as Troy, Alexander, or 300? The answer is that he is uniquely qualified to transmute such trash into illuminating visions of the culturally confused age in which we live. G. W. Bowersock, New York Review of Books, 6 Nov. 2008
Many of FreshDirect's customers say they are using the service because food shopping in Manhattan can be agonizing. But the question is whether discerning food shoppers will trust it. Florence Fabricant, New York Times, 6 Nov. 2002
Who reads short stories? one is asked, and I like to think that they are read by men and women in the dentist's office, waiting to be called to the chair; they are read on transcontinental plane trips … they are read by discerning and well-informed men and women who seem to feel that narrative fiction can contribute to our understanding of one another and the sometimes bewildering world around us. John Cheever, The Story and Its Writer, 1987
She has a discerning eye for good art. a discerning critic of modern art
Recent Examples on the Web The result is a breakfast sandwich that’s elevated enough to impress even the most discerning palates. Christianna Silva, Better Homes & Gardens, 14 May 2024 Now that Trader Joe's has taken that step and marked up bananas, what will keep the more discerning customers coming into the stores? Brandee Gruener, Southern Living, 29 Mar. 2024 This year, the conventional wisdom is that the Crown will return to its, well, conventional approach: introducing timepieces that feature incremental changes, visually imperceptible to all but the most discerning collectors. Victoria Gomelsky, Robb Report, 25 Mar. 2024 The famed Ocean Club, which opened in 1962, has long been a go-to destination for the most discerning jetsetters thanks to its wealthy founder Huntington Hartford II, who invited his Hollywood friends and European royalty to the property. Emma Reynolds, Forbes, 28 Feb. 2024 This makes immediate verification tougher for even the most discerning viewers. Jonathan Freger, Forbes, 12 Feb. 2024 But more discerning adventurers now have the option to stay at Sheldon Chalet, a two-story, 2,000-square-foot guesthouse located just 500 feet away. Jen Murphy, Robb Report, 3 Feb. 2024 There are other exclusive services for the most discerning guests. Matt Keenan, Kansas City Star, 30 Jan. 2024 The Turkish shipyard just unveiled a new luxury yacht that was custom-built for a discerning Australian client. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 18 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'discerning.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


from present participle of discern

First Known Use

1589, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of discerning was in 1589

Dictionary Entries Near discerning

Cite this Entry

“Discerning.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discerning. Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: seeing and understanding clearly and intelligently
a discerning critic
discerningly adverb

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