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 descry

Historical Examples of descry

British Dictionary definitions for descry


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 descry

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


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper