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tr.v. dis·cerned, dis·cern·ing, dis·cerns
1. To perceive with the eyes; detect or distinguish: discern a figure in the shadows.
2. To recognize or understand as being distinct or different: Researchers finally discerned the purpose of the gene. See Synonyms at see1.

[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.]

dis·cern′er n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
Intelligently doth the body purify itself; attempting with intelligence it exalteth itself; to the discerners all impulses sanctify themselves; to the exalted the soul becometh joyful.
SOCRATES: If they had been, there would assuredly have been discerners of characters among us who would have known our future great men; and on their showing we should have adopted them, and when we had got them, we should have kept them in the citadel out of the way of harm, and set a stamp upon them far rather than upon a piece of gold, in order that no one might tamper with them; and when they grew up they would have been useful to the state?
Par exemple, on ne peut que discerner de l'ironie dans cet enonce d'une epouse qui a deja avoue son malheur et son insatisfaction conjugale : " une femme qui aime son mari, compte les jours oU elle a du plaisir, comme des jours ordinaires, et ceux oU elle lui en fait, comme des jours de fete " (22).
Le concept de Donna Haraway quant aux connaissances partiales suggere que les lecteurs ne devraient pas essayer de discerner qui a raison et qui a tort en ce qui concerne le Folklorama ; chaque perspective donne des points de vue utiles de l'evenement dans son ensemble.
Olive Senior, The Discerner of Hearts and Other Stories.
the thing wee sweare by, wee make it the greatest of all other, wee make it the witnesse and discerner of our trueth wee meane, and the reuenger of falsehoode and our fault if we doe not as wee sweare, all which to bee giuen to the Lorde by swearing onley by Him, is a glory to him, and contraiwise a dishonour to him to ascribe them elsewhere, since indeede they are not incident to anie creature (133).
Comment discerner dans la trame du tissu quotidien le signifiant dont la courbe fera miroiter un eclair de verite?
Outre ce facteur, les enfants sont egalement handicapes par une vision encore immature, de sorte qu'il leur faut quatre secondes pour distinguer qu'un vehicule est en mouvement, mais aussi d'une audition toute aussi immature qui les rend incapables de bien discerner la provenance d'un son.