Try Our Apps
Dictionary.com

follow Dictionary.com

2017 Word of the Year

discerning

[dih-sur-ning, -zur-] /dɪˈsɜr nɪŋ, -ˈzɜr-/
adjective
1.
showing good or outstanding judgment and understanding:
a discerning critic of French poetry.
Origin of discerning
1600-1610
First recorded in 1600-10; discern + -ing2
Related forms
discerningly, adverb
nondiscerning, adjective
undiscerning, adjective
undiscerningly, adverb
Synonyms
perceptive, keen, sharp, discriminating.

discern

[dih-surn, -zurn] /dɪˈsɜrn, -ˈzɜrn/
verb (used with object)
1.
to perceive by the sight or some other sense or by the intellect; see, recognize, or apprehend:
They discerned a sail on the horizon.
2.
to distinguish mentally; recognize as distinct or different; discriminate:
He is incapable of discerning right from wrong.
verb (used without object)
3.
to distinguish or discriminate.
Origin
1300-50; Middle English (< Old French) < Latin discernere to separate, equivalent to dis- dis-1 + cernere to separate
Related forms
discerner, noun
prediscern, verb (used with object)
undiscerned, adjective
Synonyms
1. discover, descry, espy. See notice. 2, 3. differentiate, judge.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for discerning
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • “You are as discerning as ever,” murmured the land baron––for it was Edward Mauville.

    The Strollers Frederic S. Isham
  • My son-in-law, Lawrence Hardin, is possessed of a discerning eye.

    Eventide Effie Afton
  • Where sounds are lacking, of what use is the faculty of discerning them?

  • To her discerning eye his manner of action conveyed no other impression.

    The Loyalist James Francis Barrett
  • To Christianity, discerning the end through the means, it is Redemption.

British Dictionary definitions for discerning

discerning

/dɪˈsɜːnɪŋ/
adjective
1.
having or showing good taste or judgment; discriminating
Derived Forms
discerningly, adverb

discern

/dɪˈsɜːn/
verb
1.
(transitive) to recognize or perceive clearly
2.
to recognize or perceive (differences)
Derived Forms
discerner, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French discerner, from Latin discernere to divide, from dis-1 (apart) + cernere to separate
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for discerning

"action of perceiving," late 14c., verbal noun from discern. As a present participle adjective, attested from c.1600.

discern

v.

late 14c., from Old French discerner (13c.) "distinguish (between), separate" (by sifting), and directly from Latin discernere "to separate, set apart, divide, distribute; distinguish, perceive," from dis- "off, away" (see dis-) + cernere "distinguish, separate, sift" (see crisis). Related: Discerned; discerning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for discerning

Word Value for discerning

14
18
Scrabble Words With Friends