verb \di-ˈsərn, -ˈzərn\
Definition of DISCERN
a : to detect with the eyes <discerned a figure approaching through the fog>
b : to detect with senses other than vision <discerned a strange odor>
: to come to know or recognize mentally <unable to discern his motives>
: to see or understand the difference
— dis·cern·er noun
— dis·cern·ible also dis·cern·able adjective
— dis·cern·ibly adverb
Examples of DISCERN
- The reasons behind this sudden change are difficult to discern.
- <barely able to discern the garden gate through the mist>
- A careful analysis of the “Nutrition Facts” panels might provide some guidance, but you would have to do a lot of math before you could discern the best choice. —David L. Katz, O, The Oprah Magazine, August 2008
Origin of DISCERN
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Definition of DISCERNING
Examples of DISCERNING
- She has a discerning eye for good art.
- <a discerning critic of modern art>
- Why should a discerning writer concern himself with such movies as Troy, Alexander, or 300? The answer is that he is uniquely qualified to transmute such trash into illuminating visions of the culturally confused age in which we live. —G. W. Bowersock, New York Review of Books, 6 Nov. 2008
First Known Use of DISCERNING
noun \di-ˈsərn-mənt, -ˈzərn-\
Definition of DISCERNMENT
: an act of perceiving or discerning something
Examples of DISCERNMENT
- His lack of discernment led to his disastrous choice of business partners.
- <the discernment to know when someone is a true friend>
- I wasn’t sanguine about my powers of discernment, as I’ve failed similar exercises in the Central Park Ramble, where I practice bird-watching for dummies and am scarcely able to distinguish a rook from a duck. —Judith Thurman, New Yorker, 1 Dec., 2003
First Known Use of DISCERNMENT
Related to DISCERNMENT
Synonym Discussion of DISCERNMENT
discernment, discrimination, perception, penetration, insight, acumen mean a power to see what is not evident to the average mind. discernment stresses accuracy (as in reading character or motives or appreciating art) <the discernment to know true friends>. discrimination stresses the power to distinguish and select what is true or appropriate or excellent <the discrimination that develops through listening to a lot of great music>. perception implies quick and often sympathetic discernment (as of shades of feeling) <a novelist of keen perception into human motives>. penetration implies a searching mind that goes beyond what is obvious or superficial <lacks the penetration to see the scorn beneath their friendly smiles>. insight suggests depth of discernment coupled with understanding sympathy <a documentary providing insight into the plight of the homeless>. acumen implies characteristic penetration combined with keen practical judgment <a director of reliable box-office acumen>.