discover

verb

dis·​cov·​er di-ˈskə-vər How to pronounce discover (audio)
discovered; discovering di-ˈskə-v(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce discover (audio)

transitive verb

1
a
: to make known or visible : expose
discovering himself … as her adoring and magnanimous lover T. L. Peacock
b
archaic : display
2
a
: to obtain sight or knowledge of for the first time : find
discover the solution
discovered a new Italian restaurant
b
: find out
discovered he was out of gas
discoverable adjective
discoverer noun
Choose the Right Synonym for discover

discover, ascertain, determine, unearth, learn mean to find out what one did not previously know.

discover may apply to something requiring exploration or investigation or to a chance encounter.

discovered the source of the river

ascertain implies effort to find the facts or the truth proceeding from awareness of ignorance or uncertainty.

attempts to ascertain the population of the region

determine emphasizes the intent to establish the facts definitely or precisely.

unable to determine the origin of the word

unearth implies bringing to light something forgotten or hidden.

unearth old records

learn may imply acquiring knowledge with little effort or conscious intention (as by simply being told) or it may imply study and practice.

I learned her name only today
learning Greek

Example Sentences

Several new species of plants have recently been discovered. It took her several weeks to discover the solution. The tests have discovered problems in the current design. She soon discovered what had been going on.
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These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'discover.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Anglo-French descoverir, descovrir, from Late Latin discooperire, from Latin dis- + cooperire to cover — more at cover

First Known Use

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

Time Traveler
The first known use of discover was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near discover

Cite this Entry

“Discover.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discover. Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

discover

verb

dis·​cov·​er dis-ˈkəv-ər How to pronounce discover (audio)
discovered; discovering -ˈkəv-(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce discover (audio)
1
: to make known or visible (as something secret or hidden)
2
a
: to obtain sight or knowledge of for the first time
discovered an uncharted island
discovered the law of gravity
b
: to detect the presence of : find
discovered a pizza waiting on the table
c
: find out
was surprised to discover that I had lost my keys
discoverable adjective
discoverer noun

Legal Definition

discover

transitive verb

dis·​cov·​er
1
: to find out about, recognize, or realize for the first time
when the victim discovers the fraud
see also discovery rule
2
a
: to make the subject of discovery
b
: to learn of or obtain (information) through discovery
discoverable adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on discover

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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