dis·​cov·​ery | \di-ˈskə-v(ə-)rē \
plural discoveries

Definition of discovery 

1a : the act or process of discovering the discovery of a lost city

b(1) archaic : disclosure

(2) obsolete : display

c obsolete : exploration

2 : something discovered

3 : the usually pretrial disclosure of pertinent facts or documents by one or both parties to a legal action or proceeding

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Examples of discovery in a Sentence

Scientists announced the discovery of a new species of plant. Her research led to a number of important discoveries about the disease. Reporters made the shocking discovery that the governor had been unfaithful to his wife. the discovery of pollution in the river the discovery of a talented musician sailors during the age of discovery It was one of the most important discoveries in the history of medicine.
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Recent Examples on the Web

All that hard work paid off with the discovery of GW170729, GW170809, GW170818, and GW170823, referencing the dates on which the black holes were detected. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Physicists detected gravitational waves from four new black-hole mergers," 3 Dec. 2018 But for many of us, the answer was strongly the opposite, and yet this discovery was arriving right around the time our reproductive systems were closing down shop. Kim Brooks, Harper's BAZAAR, "The New Frontier of Fertility Tests—for Young Women," 1 Nov. 2018 Eleanor working through her feelings as to the potential end of the study group is great, to the point that its impact isn’t lessened too much when the discovery of the basement portal suggests that they won’t be separated after all. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Love it or hate it, season 3 of The Good Place is taking us somewhere new (again)," 12 Oct. 2018 The discovery of contaminated water in Detroit’s schools follows a lead-tainted water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Mike Householder, The Seattle Times, "Water coolers replace school drinking fountains in Detroit," 4 Sep. 2018 The discovery of oil in Dubai during the 1960s spurred its rapid growth into a global destination, with the city’s rising architectural standing playing a big part. Alex Bazeley, Curbed, "Dubai’s first skyscraper will be included in new preservation initiative," 14 Aug. 2018 As a trans man, this discovery was crucial to Hobrecker. Devon Abelman, Allure, "Brooklyn Tattooer Mars Hobrecker on Why Tattoos Don't Have to Have Meaning," 26 July 2018 In one location, Stone Hill in northwestern Montana, the discovery of a single nest in 2016 led to a 288-acre closure, effective March 1 through August 1 each year. Ula Chrobak, Outside Online, "We're Overprotecting Birds at the Expense of Climbers," 12 July 2018 Their discovery set off a battle that led to the deaths of seven militants and an Israeli officer, and triggered the heaviest barrage of rocket fire since a 2014 war. Fares Akram, The Seattle Times, "Cease-fire takes hold between Israel and Hamas," 13 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'discovery.' 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 discovery

1529, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for discovery

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for discovery

The first known use of discovery was in 1529

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More Definitions for discovery



English Language Learners Definition of discovery

: the act of finding or learning something for the first time : the act of discovering something

: something seen or learned for the first time : something discovered


dis·​cov·​ery | \di-ˈskəv-ə-rē, -ˈskəv-rē\
plural discoveries

Kids Definition of discovery

1 : an act of finding out or learning of for the first time Experiments led to their discovery of the cure.

2 : something found or learned of for the first time a recent discovery


plural discoveries

Legal Definition of discovery 

1 : the act or process of discovering

2 : something discovered applied for a patent for the discovery

3a : the methods used by parties to a civil or criminal action to obtain information held by the other party that is relevant to the action — see also deposition, interrogatory, request for production

b : the disclosure of information held by the opposing party in an action a party need not provide discovery of electronically stored information…not reasonably accessibleFederal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 26(b)(2)(B) — see also privilege, work product doctrine

Note: Discovery allowed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 is far-reaching. With some exceptions, a party may obtain discovery of any relevant information as long as it is not privileged, including information that itself would not be admissible at trial but that is likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Criminal discovery, however, has been more controversial. Under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16, a defendant may obtain discovery of his or her own written or recorded statements or confessions, results of examinations and tests, his or her recorded testimony before a grand jury, and testimony to be given by the prosecution's expert witnesses. A defendant may also inspect the prosecution's books, documents, photographs, objects, and other items of evidence. Under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12.1, the prosecution must also disclose the names of witnesses that will be called to rebut the defendant's alibi defense. The defendant must also permit the prosecution to inspect books, documents, photographs, and objects and must disclose reports of examinations or tests and testimony of expert witnesses.

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Comments on discovery

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


a nest or breeding place

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