[ dih-surn, -zurn ]
See synonyms for: discerndiscerneddiscerning on Thesaurus.com

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)
  1. to distinguish or discriminate.

Origin of discern

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English, from Old French, from Latin discernere “to separate,” from dis- dis-1 + cernere “to decide, separate, sift”

synonym study For discern

1. See notice.

Other words for discern

Other words from discern

  • dis·cern·er, noun
  • pre·dis·cern, verb (used with object)
  • un·dis·cerned, adjective

Words Nearby discern

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use discern in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for discern


/ (dɪˈsɜːn) /

  1. (tr) to recognize or perceive clearly

  2. to recognize or perceive (differences)

Origin of discern

C14: from Old French discerner, from Latin discernere to divide, from dis- 1 (apart) + cernere to separate

Derived forms of discern

  • discerner, noun

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