What does discern mean?

Definitions for discern
dɪˈsɜrn, -ˈzɜrndis·cern

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage 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.



    DISCERN is an instrument designed to provide users with a reliable way to measure the quality of written health information. It was originally developed by Deborah Charnock, Sasha Shepperd, Gill Needham, and Robert Gann, who reported on its development and validation in a February 1999 paper.DISCERN is designed for use by individual consumers, health information providers, and health professionals. The instrument contains 15 questions that may be rated on a scale of 1–5. Questions are intended to draw user attention to issues of potential bias, content currency, relevance, clarity, evidence, and balance.The DISCERN website was launched in May 1999. Despite originally being developed using printed materials, the tool has been shown to be effective at evaluating the quality of health information on the internet, as well as for printed information.


  1. discern

    Discern is a verb which means to perceive, recognize, or distinguish something, often requiring careful thought or attention. It can also refer to the ability to judge something well.

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. Michael Steinbach:

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

  2. Thomas McLoughlin:

    We're beginning to discern a ... mindset on the island that the government is weighing the interest of investors against the economic interest of the island.

  3. Carl Gustav Jung:

    As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.

  4. Ambrose Gwinett Bierce:

    Genius - To know without having learned to draw just conclusions from unknown premises to discern the soul of things.

  5. Penny Nance:

    It's important to hear and actually try to discern the heart of a candidate, i want to know their moral compass, their core values, are the same as my members.

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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

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"discern." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 11 Dec. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/discern>.

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