Word of the Day Archive
Wednesday March 14, 2007
, transitive verb:
1. To catch sight of, especially something distant or obscure; to discern.
2. To discover by observation; to detect.
On a clear day, if there was no sun, you could descry (but barely) the ships roving out at anchor in Herne Bay and count their masts.
-- Ferdinand Mount, Jem (and Sam)
The future appears to us neither as impenetrable darkness nor as broad daylight, but rather in a half-light, in which we can descry the rough form of the nearest objects, and vague outlines farther off.
-- Robert Conquest, Reflections on a Ravaged Century
It was a chill morning, and a moist fog hung low in the valley, so it was difficult to descry exactly what was in the cart edging its slow way up the hill, with a slight figure behind, bent double, toiling under the load.
-- Geraldine Brooks, Year of Wonders
Descry comes from Middle English, from Old French descrier, "to cry out, to proclaim." The Middle English word was originally applied to shouting one's discovery of an enemy, of game, or of land.