Show Search Results Show Browse

A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1951 (DOST Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Discern(e, v. Also: dyscerne, discirne, disserne. [ME. discerne, disserne (14th c.), OF. diss-, discerner, L. discernere. Also variant of Decern v.]

1. intr. To distinguish; to recognize or make a difference; to perceive.1456 Hay I. 301/7 (to discerne betuix richt and wrang). Ib. II. 155/2 (to discerne betuix the askingis of parties). c1490 Irland Asl. MS. I. 19/27 (to discerne betuix veniale and dedly syn). c1500-c1512 Dunb. xlviii. 128 (discirning all thair fassionis and effeiris). 1513 Doug. iii. iii. 102 (that the nycht from the day he mycht discern). 1551 Hamilton Cat. 45 (discerne the verite of our faith). 1558-66 Knox II. 418 (we can nocht dyscerne the erle from the abbot). 1592 Acts III. 554/2 (to distinguische and discerne thame with congruent differences).

2. To decern, decide, settle. 1456 Hay I. 111/4.
In thir casis … the Pape may discern and juge were to be maid
1466 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 396.
To delyuir and discerne the said actioun and finaly ende it
1493 Liber Aberbr. 277.
The saidis assysowris may … discern, end, [and] conclude apon the werra rychtows marchis
1533 Bell. Livy I. 154/22.
Thai tuke audacite to decerne [v.r. disserne] the chance of batall be the swerde
a1578 Pitsc. I. 78 h.
Hou it was discernit in Parliament that thay wald revenge the battell of Sark
1596 Dalr. II. 218/27.
The actioune tha discerne … with bow and brand
1617 Urie Baron Ct. 24.
To hauld courtis and to discerne thairwpone

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Discern v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse DOST: