What does discern mean?

Definitions for discern
dɪˈsɜrn, -ˈzɜrndis·cern

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word discern.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. spot, recognize, recognise, distinguish, discern, pick out, make out, tell apartverb

    detect with the senses

    "The fleeing convicts were picked out of the darkness by the watchful prison guards"; "I can't make out the faces in this photograph"


  1. discernverb

    To detect with the senses, especially with the eyes.

  2. discernverb

    To perceive, recognize, or comprehend with the mind; to descry.

  3. discernverb

    To distinguish something as being different from something else; to differentiate.

  4. discernverb

    To perceive differences.

  5. Etymology: From discernen, from discerner, from discernere, from dis- + cernere; see certain.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. To DISCERNverb

    Etymology: discerno, Latin.

    And behold among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths a young man void of understanding. Prov. vii. 7.

    What doth better become wisdom than to discern what is worthy the loving? Philip Sidney, b. ii.

    Does any here know me? This is not Lear:
    Does Lear walk thus, speak thus? Where are his eyes?
    Either his motion weakens, or his discernings
    Are lethargied. William Shakespeare, King Lear.

    You should be rul’d and led
    By some discretion, that discerns your state
    Better than you yourself. William Shakespeare, King Lear.

    To discern such buds as are fit to produce blossoms, from such as will display themselves but in leaves, is no difficult matter. Boyle.

    They follow virtue for reward, to-day;
    To-morrow vice, if she give better pay:
    We are so good, or bad, just at a price;
    For nothing else discerns the virtue or vice. Ben Jonson.

  2. To Discernverb

    To make distinction.

    Great part of the country was abandoned to the spoils of the soldiers, who not troubling themselves to discern between a subject and a rebel, whilst their liberty lasted, made indifferently profit of both. John Hayward.

    The custom of arguing on any side, even against our persuasions, dims the understanding, and makes it by degrees lose the faculty of discerning between truth and falshood. John Locke.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Discernverb

    to see and identify by noting a difference or differences; to note the distinctive character of; to discriminate; to distinguish

  2. Discernverb

    to see by the eye or by the understanding; to perceive and recognize; as, to discern a difference

  3. Discernverb

    to see or understand the difference; to make distinction; as, to discern between good and evil, truth and falsehood

  4. Discernverb

    to make cognizance

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Discern

    diz-ėrn′, v.t. to distinguish clearly by the eye or understanding: to judge (sometimes with between).—n. Discern′er.—adj. Discern′ible.—adv. Discern′ibly.—p.adj. Discern′ing, discriminating, acute.—n. Discern′ment, power or faculty of discriminating: judgment: acuteness. [L. discern˘eredis, thoroughly, and cernĕre, to sift, perceive.]

Anagrams for discern »

  1. cinders

  2. rescind

How to pronounce discern?

How to say discern in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of discern in Chaldean Numerology is: 5

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of discern in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of discern in a Sentence

  1. Brian Burston:

    You can't discern between the different groups and you don't know whether there's ISIS infiltrators in any of them, the weapon of choice now is a truck. What next? It's just frightening.

  2. Mahabharata:

    Heaven?s gate is narrow and minute,* It cannot be perceived by foolish men, Blinded by vain illusions of the world. E?en the clear-sighted, who discern the way And seek to enter, find the portal barred And hard to be unlocked. Its massive bolts Are pride and passion, avarice and lust.

  3. David Burnham:

    The teeth suggest it’s a Tyrannosaurus rex; however, there is still more work to be done, because a young T. rex is so rare, there are only a few that have been found over the years, so it’s difficult to discern what are changes due to growth or if the differences in the bones reflect different species.


    on modern man, modernity, and technotyranny, I say this:-hooked on technology. can't discern myth from reality, loses his identity, yearns for a state of ideality. one thing he knows, is that no matter how older he grows, he sees this as just a delusion- he has no solution, that's why there is so much confusion.

  5. Michael Steinbach:

    Once in Syria, it is very difficult to discern what happens there, this lack of clarity remains troubling.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for discern

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • تبينArabic
  • забелязвам, разпознавам, съзирам, различавамBulgarian
  • wahrnehmen, erkennenGerman
  • διακρίνωGreek
  • discernir, vislumbrar, percibirSpanish
  • huomata, nähdä, erottaa, havaitaFinnish
  • discernerFrench
  • देख लेनाHindi
  • percepireItalian
  • 識別Japanese
  • 식별하다, 인지하다Korean
  • discernereLatin
  • rozróżniać, dostrzegać, zauważyć, rozróżnić, dostrzec, zauważaćPolish
  • percepe, discerneRomanian
  • распознава́ть, различа́ть, распозна́ть, различи́тьRussian
  • zbadať, rozoznať, uvedomiť si, pochopiť, rozlíšiť, všimnúť si, spozorovať, odlíšiť, postrehnúťSlovak
  • urskilja, skilja, se skillnad påSwedish
  • వివేకంTelugu
  • farketmekTurkish
  • سمجھتے ہیںUrdu
  • 辨别Chinese

Get even more translations for discern »


Find a translation for the discern definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:

Discuss these discern definitions with the community:



    Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


    "discern." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 7 Dec. 2022. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/discern>.

    Are we missing a good definition for discern? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Browse Definitions.net

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!


    Are you a words master?

    To cause to become
    • A. cleave
    • B. render
    • C. abhor
    • D. affront

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for discern: