discernment, discrimination, perception, penetration, insight, acumen mean a power to see what is not evident to the average mind. discernment stresses accuracy (as in reading character or motives or appreciating art).
the discernment to know true friends discrimination stresses the power to distinguish and select what is true or appropriate or excellent.
the discrimination that develops through listening to a lot of great music perception implies quick and often sympathetic discernment (as of shades of feeling).
a novelist of keen perception into human motives penetration implies a searching mind that goes beyond what is obvious or superficial.
lacks the penetration to see the scorn beneath their friendly smiles insight suggests depth of discernment coupled with understanding sympathy.
a documentary providing insight into the plight of the homeless acumen implies characteristic penetration combined with keen practical judgment.
a director of reliable box-office acumen
Examples of discernment in a Sentence
I wasn't sanguine about my powers of discernment, as I've failed similar exercises in the Central Park Ramble, where I practice bird-watching for dummies and am scarcely able to distinguish a rook from a duck. —Judith Thurman, New Yorker, 1 Dec., 2003Varying widely in scope and theme, the 10 essays about the Bill of Rights in this collection often shine with insight and sparkling turns of phrase; some, however, betray lack of discernment. —Jonathan Kellerman et al., Publishers Weekly, 17 Apr. 2000If one searched the archives to find an example of Spanish colonial policy at its worst, one would surely select Don Carlos Benites Franquis de Lugo, a vain, arrogant, opinionated fop who never displayed a shred of either courage or discernment but who did distinguish himself as one of the most inept and vengeful Spaniards ever to function overseas. —James A. Michener, Texas, 1985
His lack of discernment led to his disastrous choice of business partners.
the discernment to know when someone is a true friend
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'discernment.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.