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

Definition of discover

transitive verb

1a : to make known or visible : expose discovering himself … as her adoring and magnanimous lover— T. L. Peacock
b archaic : display
2a : 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from discover

discoverable \ di-​ˈskə-​v(ə-​)rə-​bəl How to pronounce discoverable (audio) \ adjective
discoverer \ di-​ˈskə-​vər-​ər How to pronounce discoverer (audio) \ 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

Examples of discover in a Sentence

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Scientists discover many secrets in sewage systems. Miriam Berger, Washington Post, "Scientists around the world are turning to feces to track coronavirus outbreaks," 21 Oct. 2020 But that hit a roadblock this week, when numerous New Yorkers reportedly received absentee ballots only to discover that their return envelopes listed the wrong names and addresses. Sarah Midkiff,, "Everyone Should Be Double-Checking The Names On Their Absentee Ballot — Here’s Why," 29 Sep. 2020 Suspecting the package contained money or drugs and overcome with curiosity, Senda unwrapped the package only to discover a brain -- along with pink flowers and foreign money. Alaa Elassar, CNN, "Wisconsin man shocked to discover a brain washed up on the beach," 20 Sep. 2020 The 36-year-old Peruvian migrant showed only mild symptoms, and returned home in May, only to discover his wife, Silvia Cano, had also fallen ill. Alan Taylor, The Atlantic, "Life in the Wake of COVID-19," 15 Sep. 2020 When Ali accidentally commits the ultimate betrayal, Nejat returns to Turkey in search of Ayten, only to discover a web of cross-cultural mysteries instead. Star Tribune, "Buckle up for 'Class Action Park': 10 best to watch, read or hear this week," 10 Sep. 2020 Happiest Season follows the story of Abby (Stewart) who plans to propose to her girlfriend Harper while attending Harper's family holiday party, only to discover her girlfriend hasn't actually come out to her conservative parents yet. Gillian Telling,, "First Look! See Kristen Stewart in Happiest Season, the Upcoming Gay Christmas Rom-Com," 2 Sep. 2020 Sherman had been sent to California as a twenty-seven-year-old lieutenant during the Mexican War, only to discover that the six-month trip around Cape Horn had delivered him too late for any fighting. Dan Mclaughlin, National Review, "California’s First Experiment without Police," 27 Aug. 2020 But for Energy, the duo composed a list of dream collaborators only to discover that many of them — including Compton, Calif.-raised Channel Tres and former Odd Future member Syd — were based in Los Angeles. Katie Bain, Billboard, "Here's What Disclosure Geeked Out On While Making 'Energy'," 14 Aug. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of discover

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

History and Etymology for discover

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about discover

Time Traveler for discover

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for discover

Last Updated

25 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Discover.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for discover


How to pronounce discover (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of discover

: to see, find, or become aware of (something) for the first time
: to show the presence of (something hidden or difficult to see) : to make (something) known
: to learn or find out (something surprising or unexpected)


dis·​cov·​er | \ di-ˈskə-vər How to pronounce discover (audio) \
discovered; discovering

Kids Definition of discover

: to find out, see, or learn of especially for the first time : find Scientists have discovered a new species. She discovered a hole in her shirt.

Other Words from discover

discoverer noun

Legal Definition of discover

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

Other Words from discover

discoverable adjective

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on discover

What made you want to look up discover? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a citrus fruit possibly named after a person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!