Definition of discover in English:



  • 1Find (something or someone) unexpectedly or in the course of a search.

    ‘firemen discovered a body in the debris’
    ‘she discovered her lover in the arms of another woman’
    • ‘Not that long ago, I seem to remember it being a shock for scientists to discover ice on Mars.’
    • ‘Tapes were discovered during follow-up searches of his house and other buildings he has access to.’
    • ‘Gabon depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s.’
    • ‘However, no weapons or dangerous substances were discovered.’
    • ‘The driver and his colleague have been treated in hospital for shock after discovering the bodies.’
    • ‘Oil fever was created a few months earlier when oil was discovered by a gas company drilling at the flour mill in Washington.’
    • ‘The substance was discovered by an employee who sorts through unclaimed luggage to give clothing to homeless organisations.’
    • ‘For 50 years local residents searched for it eventually discovering it in the United States.’
    • ‘An all-night search discovered her body early the next morning.’
    • ‘In a couple of searches, you rapidly discover a wealth of news footage in the archives of this London-based film-maker.’
    • ‘They discovered a suspicious substance when they opened the package, which was part of the postal delivery on Thursday.’
    • ‘However, follow-up searches failed to discover the murder weapon, which is believed to have been a double-barrel shotgun.’
    • ‘The men noticed the boy was missing and after a frantic search they discovered his body in the river.’
    • ‘During the search they first discovered a large white bag containing one million dinars, before coming across the padlocked metal box.’
    • ‘This year scientists discovered water instead of ice at the North Pole for the first time ever.’
    • ‘A subsequent search allegedly discovered a cache with another 60 kg of the drug.’
    • ‘She is arrested and, during a search, he discovers her treasure trove of art and music.’
    • ‘We had to return to the site where the scientist had discovered the rock in order to find more.’
    • ‘Their bodies were discovered by firefighters as they searched the hotel.’
    • ‘Her body was discovered during the routine searches of houses on the estate shortly after 1pm on Tuesday.’
    find, locate, come across, come upon, stumble on, chance on, light on, bring to light, uncover, unearth, turn up, track down
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    1. 1.1Become aware of (a fact or situation)
      ‘the courage to discover the truth and possibly be disappointed’
      [with clause] ‘it was a relief to discover that he wasn't in’
      • ‘Think about all the men you know and you may discover an interesting fact about male facial shapes.’
      • ‘The only problem now was what he was going to do with this newly discovered fact.’
      • ‘It's also an opportunity to discover fascinating facts about mammal behaviour and find out just where humans fit in amongst the diversity that exists in the world of the warm-blooded.’
      • ‘I am worried that it would be a traumatic experience for her son to discover these facts as an adult.’
      • ‘I followed my dad into the kitchen to realize my mother had discovered the same fact.’
      • ‘Applications such as this, if allowed to proceed, would result in endless litigation, as events unfold, and facts are discovered.’
      • ‘At first they were told she could keep the baby despite having taken one of the pills but the next day they discovered the situation was irretrievable.’
      • ‘After he discovers the fact (as he thinks) of his birth, Daniel is sent to Eton.’
      • ‘The goal of science, which it sometimes reaches, is to discover facts that belong to nature.’
      • ‘I felt my morale lifting by discovering this simple fact.’
      • ‘You could find out that the student has simply lost interest in dance, or maybe you will discover a situation that needs your attention.’
      • ‘While skimming through an article about ordering paper maps online I discovered a fact that was new to me.’
      • ‘The police had to release the five after discovering that fact.’
      • ‘However, not every newly discovered fact will support an order setting aside a judgment under this Rule.’
      • ‘Bruised and shaken, Elliot heads home for some clean clothes, and discovers his situation is worse than he had realised…’
      • ‘I did actually discover an interesting fact about beaches.’
      • ‘That in itself can be extremely dangerous, especially if someone was to discover the fact.’
      • ‘Ideally, education provides one with the ability to determine and discover facts about the real world.’
      • ‘In answering these questions, it would be reassuring, in a way, to report that the basic facts were discovered only after the war, but the truth is otherwise.’
      • ‘It helps the student to learn how to see and discover details.’
      find out, come to know, learn, realize, recognize, see, ascertain, work out, fathom out, detect, determine, spot, notice, perceive
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    2. 1.2Be the first to find or observe (a place, substance, or scientific phenomenon)
      ‘Fleming discovered penicillin early in the twentieth century’
      • ‘Try as they might, scientists in hundreds of laboratories around the world failed to discover that substance by classical approaches.’
      • ‘Since discovering this phenomenon, scientists have sought new ways to prevent or overcome this resistance.’
      • ‘The phenomenon was discovered when researchers tested the blood pressure of shoppers at three supermarkets before they started a trek round the aisles.’
      • ‘A hitherto unknown worm that survives without oxygen was also discovered by a scientific team.’
      • ‘Scientists have discovered a region in the brain which receives stimulation from the body.’
      • ‘Scientists have discovered an ingredient in red wine that extends the lifespan of baker's yeast by up to 80 per cent.’
      • ‘Scientists have discovered a brainless mud worm with DNA remarkably similar to that of humans, indicating we share a common ancestor.’
      • ‘Scientists have discovered many genes that play important roles in human diseases.’
      • ‘With every passing phase, life becomes more complex in the sense that it allows man to either stumble upon or to consciously discover new phenomena and substance.’
      • ‘Scientists call this recently discovered phenomenon gene silencing.’
      • ‘The ingredient discovered by the scientists is called theobromine, a derivative found in cocoa.’
      • ‘Therefore, efforts to discover such phenomena were undertaken mainly for polymorphism data from regions of low recombination.’
      • ‘Scientists in Yorkshire have discovered a defective gene which they believe is a major cause of tunnel vision.’
      • ‘Louis Pasteur unexpectedly discovered the principle of vaccination in 1879.’
      • ‘Scientists studying animals have discovered genes which control obesity.’
      • ‘Once these drugs were discovered a few scientists began to examine their effects on brain chemistry.’
      • ‘In 1882, scientists using microscopes discovered the chromosomes separately.’
      • ‘It begins by describing how heroin was discovered through scientific experimentation in Germany, and its initial uses as a medical aid.’
      • ‘Scientists have discovered a gene which raises the risk of heart disease among men who smoke up to four times, it was revealed today.’
      • ‘In 1901 he isolated adrenaline from the supradrenal gland and was the first scientist to discover gland hormones in pure form.’
      hit on, come up with, invent, originate, devise, design, contrive, conceive of
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    3. 1.3Perceive the attractions of (an activity or subject) for the first time.
      ‘a teenager who has recently discovered fashion’
      • ‘It was only last summer that I discovered the band and it was out of print already.’
      • ‘In search of answers, she turned to research in her native Sweden and discovered the work of a local Professor.’
      • ‘Obviously, there isn't much hope for religious reporting when the mainstream media is just now discovering the issues of the turn of the 20th century.’
      • ‘I've only recently discovered his work; this one I enjoy for the taste it has of the city and the artists that work within it.’
      • ‘The toddler just sucked his thumb and discovered his own entertainment.’
      • ‘A friend of mine has discovered the joys of Japanese eggplants.’
      • ‘They have recently discovered a new method of Healing, which has been used in America for 27 years.’
      • ‘By chance we recently discovered the work of a guy who is using his blogs for something utterly obsessive and brilliant.’
      • ‘He will speak on reaching peak performance and enabling one to discover one's inner potential.’
      • ‘If you don't have people like me out there telling some of the stories, you're not going to have people who had broader interest discovering those subjects.’
      • ‘At the same time, there's a sense of exclusiveness in discovering a band or a singer who you believe is speaking directly to you about your life.’
      • ‘Away from football, for the first time in 20 years, he wanted to discover new activities, like literature and the theatre.’
      • ‘But one definite highlight was discovering her work.’
      • ‘I've only discovered his work over the last few months and I can't recommend him highly enough.’
      • ‘Ami's tale concerned a day at the lake - and the newly discovered joys of birding.’
      • ‘Peter has discovered a subject: medieval thinking about demography.’
    4. 1.4Be the first to recognize the potential of (an actor, singer, or musician)
      ‘I discovered the band back in the mid 70s’
      • ‘We have discovered a conductor now, which is exciting in itself.’
      • ‘When she moved to Dublin she continued performing, and was discovered by a Galway trad band.’
      • ‘At the same time, new actors discovered in Rome also perform on this cinquecento Venetian stage.’
      • ‘Of course, the true champion for many trees probably grows in obscurity like a wannabe actor waiting to be discovered.’
      • ‘She left the band and was discovered by Gianni Versace who, recognising her talents, ‘adopted’ her as his sister.’
      • ‘He should be recognized for discovering the young man.’
      • ‘But although he has found the technology to come up with the tunes, he has struggled to discover vocalists to deliver the goods.’
      • ‘Yet Elvis was not by any stretch the only artist discovered by him.’
      • ‘Alan McGee discovered the band in Scotland and T was where they first showed their full potential.’
      • ‘The Super League side held regional sessions at eight venues across the country on Sunday in a bid to discover a potential star.’
      • ‘But Manchester's own Olympic sprint gold medallist today launched a campaign to discover a potential successor to his crown as Britain's top sprinter.’
      • ‘And in him, the small screen has discovered an entertainer with gravitas.’
      • ‘I have discovered a drummer that will knock your socks off.’
      • ‘This format is still the shop window for any new band to be discovered.’
      • ‘In 1996, the manager of Capitol Records discovered the band and signed them to the label.’
  • 2archaic Divulge (a secret)

    ‘they contain some secrets which Time will discover’
    • ‘What these changes are, time will discover.’
    • ‘"Time will discover the hand that baptizes him," the old man said.’
    • ‘Only time will discover what this blog will evolve into.’
    • ‘In time the best of Schoenberg will, of course, survive and time will discover the proper values.’
    • ‘Whether he think as he speaks, time will discover.’
    divulge, disclose, tell, let out, let slip, let drop, let fall, give away, give the game away, give the show away, babble, give out, release, leak, betray, open up, unveil, bring out into the open
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    1. 2.1Disclose the identity of (someone)
      ‘she at last discovered herself to me’
      • ‘So both of them discovered themselves to the garrison of the Philistines.’
      • ‘The local citizens interested in various forms of athletic sports and quieter games of chess and checkers have discovered themselves to the editors.’
      • ‘This was also the favourite object of his charity after he had discovered himself to the world in Limousin.’
      • ‘For seven days he remained in his voluntary prison; but his stock of water being expended, he discovered himself to the captain, who literally cut him out of the hold, and rather reluctantly gave him his liberty on arriving at Boston.’
      • ‘A little time afterwards she discovered herself to him.’
    2. 2.2Display (a quality or feeling)
      ‘with what agility did these military men discover their skill in feats of war’
      • ‘In this nostalgia for community some would discover utopian impulses, others would decry imaginary fulfilments as ideological.’


Middle English (in the sense make known): from Old French descovrir, from late Latin discooperire, from Latin dis- (expressing reversal) + cooperire cover completely (see cover).