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[dih-skrahy] /dɪˈskraɪ/
verb (used with object), descried, descrying.
to see (something unclear or distant) by looking carefully; discern; espy:
The lookout descried land.
to discover; perceive; detect.
Origin of descry
1250-1300; Middle English descrien < Old French de(s)crïer to proclaim, decry. See dis-1, cry
Related forms
descrier, noun
undescried, adjective
undescrying, adjective
Can be confused
decry, descry (see synonym study at decry)
1. notice. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for descried
Historical Examples
  • Looking around him, he at length, from the edge of the valley, descried Robert.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • Presently there was not so much as a trail of smoke to be descried at sea.

    Billy Topsail & Company

    Norman Duncan
  • They set forward, and after about a day's journey they descried the lodge of the Manitoes.

    The Indian Fairy Book Cornelius Mathews
  • Next is descried the bay of Tarentum, town, if rumour is true, of Hercules.

  • We had descried from some way off a mass of brilliant crimson on a steep hillside.

  • At length signals of the approach of the game were descried and heard.

    Waverley Sir Walter Scott
  • The chief had descried them at the same moment, if not before they saw him.

    The Story of Red Feather

    Edward S. (Edward Sylvester) Ellis
  • As he passed out of the building he descried the boys at play on the lawn.

    In School and Out Oliver Optic
  • What I had descried had quite belied my expectation, and had been totally unforeseen.

    Border Ghost Stories Howard Pease
  • Lucile was just about in despair when, at the far end of the platform, she descried her.

    Lucile Triumphant Elizabeth M. Duffield
British Dictionary definitions for descried


verb (transitive) -scries, -scrying, -scried
to discern or make out; catch sight of
to discover by looking carefully; detect
Derived Forms
descrier, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French descrier to proclaim, decry
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for descried



"to proclaim," mid-14c., from Old French descrier, from des- (see dis-) + crier, from Latin quiritare (see cry (v.)).



"to see, discern," c.1300, probably from Old French descrier "publish" (Modern French décrier), from Latin describere (see describe).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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