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 discover on Wikipedia

Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English discoveren, from Old French descovrir, from Late Latin discoperīre < discooperiō, discooperīre, from Latin dis- + cooperiō. Displaced native Old English onfindan.



discover (third-person singular simple present discovers, present participle discovering, simple past and past participle discovered)

  1. To find or learn something for the first time.
    Turning the corner, I discovered a lovely little shop. I discovered that they sold widgets.
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To remove the cover from; to uncover (a head, building etc.).
    • 1953, Samuel Beckett, Watt, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Grove Press, published 1959, →OCLC:
      He set down his bags beside him, on the beautiful red floor, and he took off his hat, for he had reached his destination, discovering his scant red hair, and laid it on the table beside him.
  3. (transitive, now rare) To expose, uncover.
    The gust of wind discovered a bone in the sand.
  4. (transitive, chess) To create by moving a piece out of another piece's line of attack.
    This move discovers an attack on a vital pawn.
  5. (law, transitive) To question (a person) as part of discovery in a lawsuit.
    • 2019 July 2, Ward K. Branch, “Gordon v. Canada, 2017 FC 454”, in CanLII[1], retrieved 13 April 2021:
      Indeed, the plaintiffs suggest that they may not need to call Ms. Samji at all if they are allowed to discover the defendant on the new documents before any new trial takes place.
  6. (transitive, archaic) To reveal (information); to divulge, make known.
    I discovered my plans to the rest of the team.
    • c. 1596–1598 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene vii]:
      Go, draw aside the curtains, and discover / The several caskets to this noble prince.
    • 1625, Francis [Bacon], “Of Adversity”, in The Essayes [], 3rd edition, London: [] Iohn Haviland for Hanna Barret, →OCLC:
      Prosperity doth best discover vice; but adversity doth best discover virtue.
    • 1726 October 28, [Jonathan Swift], “The Author’s Love of His Country. []”, in Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. [] [Gulliver’s Travels], volume I, London: [] Benj[amin] Motte, [], →OCLC, part II (A Voyage to Brobdingnag), page 269:
      It was in vain to diſcover my Reſentments, which were always turned into Ridicule; and I was forced to reſt with Patience while my noble and moſt beloved Country was ſo injuriouſly treated.
  7. (transitive, obsolete) To reconnoitre, explore (an area).
    • 1470–1485 (date produced), Thomas Malory, “Capitulum ix”, in [Le Morte Darthur], book V, [London: [] by William Caxton], published 31 July 1485, →OCLC; republished as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, Le Morte Darthur [], London: David Nutt, [], 1889, →OCLC:
      they seyde the same, and were aggreed that Sir Clegis, Sir Claryon, and Sir Clement the noble, that they sholde dyscover the woodys, bothe the dalys and the downys.
      (please add an English translation of this quotation)
  8. (obsolete) To manifest without design; to show; to exhibit.
    • 1871, Charles John Smith, Synonyms Discriminated:
      The youth discovered a taste for sculpture.
    • 1806, Alexander Hunter, Culina Famulatrix Medicinæ, page 125:
      The English Cooks keep all their Spices in separate boxes, but the French Cooks make a spicey mixture that does not discover a predominancy of any one of the spices over the others.



Derived terms[edit]

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