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See more synonyms for descry on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), de·scried, de·scry·ing.
  1. to see (something unclear or distant) by looking carefully; discern; espy: The lookout descried land.
  2. to discover; perceive; detect.
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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)


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1. notice.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for descry

Historical Examples

  • If only she could descry something plain to tell her husband!

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • And can you descry no difference between his letters and those addressed to other people?'

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

  • Bolko could descry the figure of Auriola at the margin of the spring.

  • Then she prayed a prayer from the depths of her heart; but still she could descry no rock.

  • No people who have lived much with Nature have failed to descry this.

British Dictionary definitions for descry


verb -scries, -scrying or -scried (tr)
  1. to discern or make out; catch sight of
  2. to discover by looking carefully; detect
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Derived Formsdescrier, 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

Word Origin and History for descry


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

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper