from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To perceive with the eyes or intellect; detect.
  • transitive v. To recognize or comprehend mentally.
  • transitive v. To perceive or recognize as being different or distinct; distinguish. See Synonyms at see1.
  • intransitive v. To perceive differences.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To detect with the senses, especially with the eyes.
  • v. To perceive, recognize, or comprehend with the mind; to descry.
  • v. To distinguish something as being different from something else; to differentiate.
  • v. To perceive differences.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To see or understand the difference; to make distinction.
  • intransitive v. To make cognizance.
  • transitive v. To see and identify by noting a difference or differences; to note the distinctive character of; to discriminate; to distinguish.
  • transitive v. To see by the eye or by the understanding; to perceive and recognize.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To distinguish; perceive the difference between(two or more things); discriminate.
  • To indicate or constitute the difference between; show the distinction between.
  • To see distinctly; separate mentally from the general mass of objects occupying the field of vision; perceive by the eye; descry.
  • To discover by the intellect; gain knowledge of; become aware of; distinguish.
  • Synonyms and To perceive, recognize, mark, note, espy, descry.
  • To perceive a difference or distinction; make or establish a distinction; discriminate: as, to discern between truth and falsehood.
  • To see; penetrate by the eye.
  • To have judicial cognizance: with of.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. detect with the senses


Middle English discernen, from Old French discerner, from Latin discernere, to separate : dis-, apart; see dis- + cernere, to perceive; see krei- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English discernen, from Old French discerner, from Latin discernere ("to separate, divide, distinguish, discern"), from dis- ("apart") + cernere ("to separate"); see certain. (Wiktionary)



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  • And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to DISCERN what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ... Philippians 1:9-10

    February 18, 2011