verb (used with object), de·scried, de·scry·ing.

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 formsde·scri·er, nounun·de·scried, adjectiveun·de·scry·ing, adjective
Can be confuseddecry descry (see synonym study at decry)

Synonyms for descry

1. notice. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for descried

Historical Examples of descried

  • 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.

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for descried


verb -scries, -scrying or -scried (tr)

to discern or make out; catch sight of
to discover by looking carefully; detect
Derived Formsdescrier, noun

Word Origin for descry

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

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