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

: to make known or visible : expose
discovering himself … as her adoring and magnanimous loverT. L. Peacock
archaic : display
: to obtain sight or knowledge of for the first time : find
discover the solution
discovered a new Italian restaurant
: 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.
Recent Examples on the Web This Joachim Trier film is a meditation on connection and how people discover themselves through love and loss. Aimée Lutkin, ELLE, 1 Feb. 2023 In the Paramount+ show, which premiered Jan. 26, Gellar transforms into Kristin Ramsey, an arson investigator hunting for clues about a curious California wildfire only to discover that supernatural forces are at play. Emlyn Travis,, 28 Jan. 2023 In addition to saving money and reducing water usage, gardeners who switch from high-water use plants to succulents and other drought-tolerant plants discover a reduction in maintenance time and costs. Nicole Sours Larson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 Jan. 2023 Montecito can feel like a secret to those who discover it. Corina Knoll, New York Times, 17 Jan. 2023 Some of them may go extinct before humans can even discover them. Doug Johnson, Ars Technica, 20 Dec. 2022 Margaret Dumont died, at age 82, in March 1965, and her popularity grows as new generations discover her: standing tall, her posture perfect, ready for whatever is coming at her. Jeanine Basinger, WSJ, 25 Nov. 2022 The Black Internet Effect closes out the Pocket Change Collective series, a collection of ten books written by activists and artists to inspire young readers to discover themselves and their world. Dominique Fluker, Essence, 21 Nov. 2022 Variety has learned from sources that James will star in the one-hour drama series as Eddie, who inherits his father’s estate only to discover it is part of Pearson’s empire. Joe Otterson, Variety, 3 Nov. 2022 See More

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


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.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


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

Legal Definition


transitive verb
: to find out about, recognize, or realize for the first time
when the victim discovers the fraud
see also discovery rule
: to make the subject of discovery
: to learn of or obtain (information) through discovery
discoverable adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on discover

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