Synonym Chooser

How does the verb discover contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of discover are ascertain, determine, learn, and unearth. While all these words 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

When is ascertain a more appropriate choice than discover?

The synonyms ascertain and discover are sometimes interchangeable, but 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

When is it sensible to use determine instead of discover?

While the synonyms determine and discover are close in meaning, determine emphasizes the intent to establish the facts definitely or precisely.

unable to determine the origin of the word

When might learn be a better fit than discover?

The words learn and discover are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, 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

In what contexts can unearth take the place of discover?

Although the words unearth and discover have much in common, unearth implies bringing to light something forgotten or hidden.

unearth old records

Thesaurus Entries Near discover

Cite this Entry

“Discover.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on discover

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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