dis·​cov·​ery | \ di-ˈskə-v(ə-)rē How to pronounce discovery (audio) \
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 Wouter van der Veen, scientific director of the Van Gogh Institute in France, made the discovery. Fox News, "French site where Vincent Van Gogh created his last painting may have been revealed," 30 July 2020 Friday, July 25, when workers surveying land in southwest Birmingham made the discovery. Carol Robinson |, al, "Human remains found in burned car are those of Carver High senior missing since 2018," 30 July 2020 Matt Doran, who founded the social network Donor Children, made his NPE discovery at 25. Caitlin Harrington, Wired, "There's No Such Thing as Family Secrets in the Age of 23andMe," 30 July 2020 Following his discovery on the pontoon, the little boy told investigators that his mother did not get back in the boat after being in the lake. Natalie Stone,, "Naya Rivera & Ryan Dorsey Agreed to Joint Custody of Son Josey 3 Months Before She Disappeared," 10 July 2020 Following its discovery, which came against the backdrop of nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice, the FBI and NASCAR opened investigations into the incident. Peter Martinez, CBS News, "NASCAR's Bubba Wallace hits back at Trump, calls out "HATE from the POTUS"," 7 July 2020 A couple of months ago a group of scientists announced their discovery of a new drug candidate that inhibits that protease. William A. Haseltine, Scientific American, "Lessons for COVID-19 from the Early Days of AIDS," 6 July 2020 No way to show a classmate their discovery from 6 feet away. Jill Tucker,, "How will Bay Area classrooms work in the fall? Teachers imagine the future of school," 2 July 2020 Rivera's family has been notified of the discovery. Ineye Komonibo,, "A Body Has Been Found In The Lake Where Naya Rivera Went Missing," 13 July 2020

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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Time Traveler for discovery

Time Traveler

The first known use of discovery was in 1529

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Statistics for discovery

Last Updated

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Discovery.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for discovery


How to pronounce discovery (audio)

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 How to pronounce discovery (audio) , -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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