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[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.
1300-50; Middle English (< Old French) < Latin discernere to separate, equivalent to dis- dis-1 + cernere to separate
Related forms
discerner, noun
prediscern, verb (used with object)
undiscerned, adjective
1. discover, descry, espy. See notice. 2, 3. differentiate, judge. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for discerned
  • And a longing for both personal and social salvation can be discerned in the choreography.
  • Several technical challenges must be overcome before individual bases can be discerned this way.
  • Had he seen the whole picture, each story nicely placed back to back, he may have discerned a common problem.
  • Individual point sources for the dust can be discerned.
  • Cues that a family medicine or pediatric practice is welcoming to adolescents can be discerned well before the first visit.
  • Behind the scenes, a more significant trend can be discerned.
  • The term usually means that information about the hardware is easily discerned.
  • Precise rankings between countries are not possible, but broad comparisons are, and changes over time can be discerned.
  • More mainstream writers have also discerned crude prejudice on the secular side.
  • Scientists have discerned a peculiar but predictable pattern in which dreams tend to occur.
British Dictionary definitions for discerned


(transitive) to recognize or perceive clearly
to recognize or perceive (differences)
Derived Forms
discerner, noun
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for discerned



late 14c., from Old French discerner (13c.) "distinguish (between), separate" (by sifting), and directly from Latin discernere "to separate, set apart, divide, distribute; distinguish, perceive," from dis- "off, away" (see dis-) + cernere "distinguish, separate, sift" (see crisis). Related: Discerned; discerning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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