[ dih-sur-ning, -zur- ]
/ dɪˈsɜr nɪŋ, -ˈzɜr- /


showing good or outstanding judgment and understanding: a discerning critic of French poetry.

Origin of discerning

First recorded in 1600–10; discern + -ing2

Related forms

dis·cern·ing·ly, adverbnon·dis·cern·ing, adjectiveun·dis·cern·ing, adjectiveun·dis·cern·ing·ly, adverb

Definition for discerning (2 of 2)


[ dih-surn, -zurn ]
/ dɪˈsɜrn, -ˈzɜrn /

verb (used with object)

to perceive by the sight or some other sense or by the intellect; see, recognize, or apprehend: They discerned a sail on the horizon.
to distinguish mentally; recognize as distinct or different; discriminate: He is incapable of discerning right from wrong.

verb (used without object)

to distinguish or discriminate.

Origin of discern

1300–50; Middle English (< Old French) < Latin discernere to separate, equivalent to dis- dis-1 + cernere to separate


2, 3 differentiate, judge.

Related forms

dis·cern·er, nounpre·dis·cern, verb (used with object)un·dis·cerned, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for discerning

British Dictionary definitions for discerning (1 of 2)


/ (dɪˈsɜːnɪŋ) /


having or showing good taste or judgment; discriminating

Derived Forms

discerningly, adverb

British Dictionary definitions for discerning (2 of 2)


/ (dɪˈsɜːn) /


(tr) to recognize or perceive clearly
to recognize or perceive (differences)

Derived Forms

discerner, noun

Word Origin for discern

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