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From Old French descrier (to proclaim, announce, cry).



descry (third-person singular simple present descries, present participle descrying, simple past and past participle descried)

  1. (transitive) To see.
  2. (transitive) To discover (a distant or obscure object) by the eye; to espy; to discern or detect.
    • c. 1605, William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act IV, Scene 5,[1]
      Edmund, I think, is gone,
      In pity of his misery, to dispatch
      His nighted life; moreover to descry
      The strength o’ th’ enemy.
    • 1674, John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 10, lines 325-326,[2]
      And now thir way to Earth they had descri’d,
      To Paradise first tending, []
    • 1719, Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, London: W. Taylor, 3rd edition, p. 127,[3]
      When I had pass’d the Vale where my Bower stood as above, I came within View of the Sea, to the West, and it being a very clear Day, I fairly descry’d Land—whether an Island or a Continent, I could not tell; but it lay very high, extending from the West to the W.S.W. at a very great Distance;
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, The Celebrity, New York: Macmillan, Chapter 4, p. 47,[4]
      Judge Short had gone to town, and Farrar was off for a three days’ cruise up the lake. I was bitterly regretting I had not gone with him when the distant notes of a coach horn reached my ear, and I descried a four-in-hand winding its way up the inn road from the direction of Mohair.
  3. (transitive) To discover: to disclose; to reveal.
    • 1670, John Milton, The History of Britain, London: James Allestry, Book 2, p. 87,[5]
      His Body was found almost naked in the field, for his Purple Robe he had thrown aside, lest it should descry him, unwilling to be found.


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