Forms: α. ME– discover; also ME deschuver, discoovir, ME dys-, ME–16 discouer, ME -cuuer, -couyr, -couuer. β. ME diskyuer, ME diskeuer, dyskeuer. γ. ME descure, ME–15 discour(e, -cure, ME -cuyre, ME–15 -kure, 15 -cuir. δ. ME–15 dis-, dyskere.
Etymology: < Old French descovrir, descouvrir = Provençal descobrir, Spanish descubrir, Italian discovrire (later -coprire), < medieval Latin discooperīre, late Latin or Romanic < dis- prefix 1d + Latin cooperīre to cover v.1 The Old French stressed form descuevre, -queuvre, gave the English variant, diskever (still dial.), and the vocalizing of v between vowels, gave the reduced discour, -cure, and diskere.
†1. trans. To remove the covering (clothing, roof, lid, etc.) from (anything); to bare, uncover; esp. to uncover (the head), to unroof (a building). Obs.
1382 Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) Lev. xxi. 10 His heed he shal not discouer, his clothis he shal not kitt.
14.. Lydgate Temple Glas 916 Who þat wil‥Fulli be cured‥He most‥Discure his wound, & shew it to his lech.
c1449 R. Pecock Repressor (1860) 206 The principal crucifix of the chirche schal be discovered and schewid baar and nakid to al the peple of the processioun.
1483 Caxton tr. J. de Voragine Golden Legende 362/2 She‥said to her sustres that they sholde discouere their hedes.
1520 R. Whittinton Uulgaria (1527) 40 Let hym also‥set his cuppe surely before his superyour, discouer it and couer it agayne with curtesy made.
1571 E. Grindal Articles 50 Whether any man hath pulled downe or discouered any Church, chauncell, or chappell.
1627 Lisander & Cal. v. 80 At the end of his sermon having discovered his head.
1628 E. Coke 1st Pt. Inst. Lawes Eng. i. 53 If the house be discouered by tempest, the tenant must in conuenient time repaire it.
†2. To remove, withdraw (anything serving as a cover); to cause to cease to be a covering. Obs.
1535 W. Stewart tr. H. Boethius Bk. Cron. Scotl. II. 139 At the last the cloud ane lytill we Discouerit wes, that tha micht better se.
1611 Bible (A.V.) Jer. xiii. 22 For the greatnesse of thine iniquitie are thy skirts discouered.
1618 G. Chapman tr. Hesiod Georgicks i. 161 When the woman the unwieldy lid Had once discover’d, all the miseries hid‥dispersed and flew About the world.
3. a. To disclose or expose to view (anything covered up, hidden, or previously unseen), to reveal, show. Now rare.
a1450 (1410) H. Lovelich Hist. Holy Grail lv. l. 175 Thanne browhte Aleyn this holy vessel Anon‥& there it discouerede & schewed it þe kyng.
1535 Bible (Coverdale) Isa. xxvi. C, He wil discouer the bloude that she hath deuoured.
1613 Voy. Guiana in Harl. Misc. (Malh.) III. 182 A goodly river, discovering a gallant Country.
1661 E. Hickeringill Jamaica 39 Columbus, to whose happy search, the West-Indies first discovered it self.
1689 E. Hickeringill Speech Without-doors v. 35 Which Wrinckles I had rather Masque over and cover, than discover.
1716 Lady M. W. Montagu Let. 14 Sept. (1965) I. 263 The Stage was built over a‥Canal, and at the beginning of the 2nd Act divided into 2 parts, discovering the Water.
1797 A. Radcliffe Italian III. xi. 385 This discovered to Schedoni the various figures assembled in his dusky chamber.
a1861 A. H. Clough Poems & Prose Rem. (1869) II. 468 She‥Swift her divine shoulders discovering.
1882 R. L. Stevenson New Arabian Nights I. 183 The nurseryman‥readily discovered his hoard.
1892 N. Smyth Christian Ethics i. iii. 188 This mode of thinking discovers a cosmical moral significance in the incarnation.
†b. To afford a view of, to show. Obs.
1600 E. Blount tr. G. F. di Conestaggio Hist. Uniting Portugall to Castill 212 Upon the hils, which discover the enimies lodging and their trenches.
1638 T. Herbert Some Yeares Trav. (rev. ed.) 73 ‘Tis wall’d about, and to the N.N.W. discovers a lake or fish-pond five miles over.
1667 Milton Paradise Lost i. 64 From those flames No light, but rather darkness visible Serv’d only to discover sights of woe.
c1710 C. Fiennes Diary (1888) 112 An advanced piece of ground above all the rest‥discovers the Country a great Circuit round.
c. to discover check (Chess): to remove a piece or pawn which stands between a checking piece and the king, and so to put the latter in check.
[1614 A. Saul Famous Game Chesse-play viii. sig. C3, A Mate by discouery, the most worthiest of all.]
1816 Stratagems of Chess (1817) 11 Place the queen, bishop or castle behind a pawn or a piece in such a manner as upon playing that pawn or piece you discover a check upon your adversary’s king.
1847 H. Staunton Chess-player’s Handbk. 20 When the King is directly attacked by the Piece played, it is a simple check; but when the Piece moved does not itself give check, but unmasks another which does, it is called a discovered check.
1847 H. Staunton Chess-player’s Handbk. 28 A striking though simple instance of the power of a discovered check.
1847 H. Staunton Chess-player’s Handbk. 29 White must play his Rook to K.Kt.’s sixth square, discovering check with the Bishop.
1870 F. Hardy & J. R. Ware Mod. Hoyle , Chess 42 Double Check is when check is discovered‥the King being also attacked by the piece moved.
4. To divulge, reveal, disclose to knowledge (anything secret or unknown); to make known. arch.
a. With simple obj.
a1300 Cursor M. 28293 (Cott.) , Priuetis o fremyd and frende I haue discouerd als vn-hende.
a1375 William of Palerne l. 3192 Þis dede schal i neuer deschuuer.
c1386 Chaucer Canon’s Yeoman’s Prol. & Tale 143 Thou sclaundrest me‥And eek discouerest that thou sholdest hyde.
c1470 J. Hardyng Chron. ii. i, The youngest suster the mater all discured To her husbande.
?c1475 Sqr. lowe Degre 868 Anone he made hym swere His counsayl he should never diskere.
1597 Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet iii. i. 142 Ah Noble Prince I can discouer all The most vnlucky mannage of this brawle.
1662 J. Davies tr. J. A. de Mandelslo Trav. 5 They contain some secrets which Time will discover.
1712 W. Rogers Cruising Voy. 9 [I] now thought it fit to discover to our Crew whither we were bound.
1751 Johnson Rambler No. 97. ⁋14 He honestly discovers the state of his fortune.
b. With subord. clause.
1600 Shakespeare Much Ado about Nothing i. ii. 10 The prince discouered to Claudio that he loued my niece your daughter.
1845 J. H. Newman Lett. & Corr. (1891) II. 460 Continually do I pray that He would discover to me if I am under a delusion.
†c. absol. Obs.
14.. Lydgate Temple Glas 629 Lich him þat‥knoweþ not, to whom forto discure.
1659 T. Burton Diary (1828) IV. 302 All means were used to make him discover, but he‥would not confess.
†5. To reconnoitre. Also absol. Obs.
1487 (1380) J. Barbour Bruce (St. John’s Cambr.) xiv. 268 Furth till discouir, thair way thai ta.
1553 G. Douglas tr. Virgil Eneados ix. iii. 196 Of the nycht wach the cure We geif Mesapus, the ȝettis to discure.
1572 Taill of Rauf Coilȝear (1882) 798 Derfly ouir Daillis, discouerand the doun, Gif ony douchtie that day for Iornayis was dicht.
1592 H. Unton Corr. (1847) 330 The king this day goeth to the warr to discover.
1600 E. Blount tr. G. F. di Conestaggio Hist. Uniting Portugall to Castill 211 He issued foorth‥with his whole army, onely with an intent to discover.
6. To reveal the identity of (a person); hence, to betray. arch.
c1320 Sir Beues 74 Maseger, do me surte, þat þow nelt nouȝt discure me To no wiȝt!
c1386 Chaucer Merchant’s Tale 698 Mercy, and that ye nat discouere me.
1465 J. Daubeney in Paston Lett. & Papers (2004) II. 350 A told me‥in noo wyse þat ye dyskure not Master Stevyn.
1599 Warning for Faire Women ii. 524 Whither shal I fly? The very bushes wil dis-cover me.
1632 J. Hayward tr. G. F. Biondi Eromena 71 When hee asked who hee was, the Marquesse durst not discover him (so strictly was he tied by promise to conceale him).
1726 W. R. Chetwood Voy. Capt. Boyle 264 She at last discover’d herself to me: She was Daughter-in-Law to [etc.].
1865 C. Kingsley Hereward xix, He was on the point of discovering himself to them.
†7. a. To manifest, exhibit, display (an attribute, quality, feeling, etc.). Obs.
c1430 Pilgr. Lyf Manhode (1869) i. cxxv. 66 It is michel more woorth‥þan to diskeuere his iustice, and to say, bihold mi swerde whiche i haue vnshethed you.
1576 A. Fleming tr. Erasmus in Panoplie Epist. 338 M. Clemens, to whome S. T. Moore hathe discovered a fewe sparckles of his benevolence towardes mee.
1589 R. Greene Menaphon sig. C3v, I haue not‥store of plate to discouer anie wealth.
1615 J. Stephens Satyr. Ess. 213 He will enter into a Taverne‥onely to discover his gold lace and scarlet.
1682 J. Bunyan Holy War 171 With what agility‥did these military-men discover their skill in feats of War.
1771 J. Reynolds Disc. Royal Acad. iv. (1876) 347 He takes as much pains to discover, as the greater artist does to conceal, the marks of his subordinate assiduity.
b. esp. To manifest by action; to display (unconsciously or unintentionally); to exhibit, betray, allow to be seen or perceived. arch.
c1460 La Belle Dame 403 in Pol. Rel. & L. Poems (1866) 65 If youre grace to me be Discouerte, Thanne be your meane soon shulde I be relevyd.
1556 tr. J. de Flores Histoire de Aurelio & Isabelle sig. K4, Then yowre regard discouerethe‥the desire of yowre harte.
1600 E. Blount tr. G. F. di Conestaggio Hist. Uniting Portugall to Castill 117 The more he mounted, the more he discovered his incapacitie.
1658 Sir T. Browne Hydriotaphia iii. 49 The remaining bones discovered his proportion.
1739 C. Labelye Short Acct. Piers Westm. Bridge 59 The Timber‥discover’d a strong Smell of Turpentine upon the first Stroke of a Plane.
a1856 W. Hamilton Lect. Metaphysics (1859) I. xviii. 341 She had never discovered a talent for poetry or music.
1887 Times 27 Aug. 11/3 He was bitten by a pet fox which subsequently discovered symptoms of rabies.
c. With subord. clause.
a1599 Spenser View State Ireland in J. Ware Two Hist. Ireland (1633) 50 The which name doth discover them also to be auncient English.
1623 J. Mead Let. 1 Mar. in H. Ellis Orig. Lett. Eng. Hist. (1824) 1st Ser. III. 126 How could that discover they were for Spaine?
1713 Pope in Guardian 16 Mar. 1/2 A lofty Gentleman whose Air and Gait discovered when he had published a new Book.
1802–3 F. W. Blagdon in tr. P. S. Pallas Trav. Southern Provinces Russ. Empire (1812) I. 425 All the Nagais still discover by their features, that they are of Mongolian origin.
1856 R. W. Emerson Eng. Traits i. 22 Rousseau’s Confessions had discovered to him [sc. Carlyle] that he was not a dunce.
8. To obtain sight or knowledge of (something previously unknown) for the first time; to come to the knowledge of; to find out.
a. With simple obj.
1555 R. Eden tr. Peter Martyr of Angleria Decades of Newe Worlde i. i. f. 2, Colonus‥in this fyrst nauigation‥discouered .vj. Ilandes.
1585 T. Washington tr. N. de Nicolay Nauigations Turkie i. v. 4 Wee discovered at the Seas two Foystes which came even towardes the place where we were.
1670 E. Maynwaring Pharmacopœian Physician’s Repos. 90 This alkalisate property was first discovered by preparation and tryals.
1783 H. Blair Lect. Rhetoric x. (Seager), We invent things that are new; we discover what was before hidden. Galileo invented the telescope; Harvey discovered the circulation of the blood.
1840 Penny Cycl. XVI. 176 Banks’s Islands‥were discovered by Captain Bligh in 1789.
1860 J. Tyndall Glaciers of Alps ii. xvii. 317 The sounds continued without our being able to discover their source.
b. With subord. clause or inf. phr.
1556 tr. J. de Flores Histoire de Aurelio & Isabelle sig. B8, Your loue shal be discouered to be false.
1676 Lister in Ray’s Corr. (1848) 125, I am glad you have discovered those authors to be plagiaries.
1726 Swift Gulliver I. ii. viii. 153 He sent out his Long-boat to discover what I was.
1868 J. N. Lockyer Elem. Lessons Astron. vi. 228 Dr. Wollaston in‥1802 discovered that there were dark lines crossing the spectrum in different places.
1892 Sir H. E. Lopes in Law Times’ Rep. LXVII. 150/2 The defendant Burton says he discovered that he had made a mistake.
c. To catch sight of; to sight, descry, espy. arch.
1576–90 Bible (Tomson) Acts xxi. 3 And when we had discouered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand.
1585 T. Washington tr. N. de Nicolay Nauigations Turkie i. xi. 13 In the evening we discovered the citie of Gigeri.
1660 F. Brooke tr. V. Le Blanc World Surveyed 23 From the top of the hill you discover Aden, standing in a large plain.
1726 W. R. Chetwood Voy. Capt. Boyle 373 November 3, we discover’d England, whose Chalky Cliffs gave us all a vast Delight.
1817 Shelley Laon & Cythna vii. xl. 176 Day was almost over, When thro’ the fading light I could discover A ship approaching.
d. spec. To bring to public notice, make famous or fashionable.
1908 Busy Man’s Mag. Sept. 114/2 It is interesting just here to note that while editor of the Westminster, Mr. Macdonald ‘discovered’ Ralph Connor (Rev. Dr. Gordon), the celebrated Canadian novelist.
1926 M. Baring Daphne Adeane i. 3 She was merged in the ranks of the unnoticed, till she was suddenly ‘discovered’.
1932 Times Lit. Suppl. 8 Sept. 625/3 In a very short time she had producers‥vying with each other for the honour of ‘discovering’ her.
1963 J. Fleming Death of Sardine iii. 41 One day, when Trigoso Praia, or Plage, was ‘discovered’ the road might be an important promenade.
†9. To bring into fuller knowledge; to explore (a country, district, etc.). Obs.
1582 N. Lichefield tr. F. L. de Castanheda 1st Bk. Hist. Discouerie E. Indias lxxv. 154 In commission to go & discouer the red Sea with the Countreyes adiacent.
1670 J. Narborough Jrnl. in Acct. Several Late Voy. (1711) i. 43, I sent in my Boat to discover the Harbour, and see if the Pink was there.
1751 S. Whatley England’s Gazetteer at Tingmouth-West, The Danes landed here in 970, to discover the country previous to their invasion of it.
1850 W. H. Prescott Hist. Conquest Peru II. 192 He was empowered to discover and occupy the country for the distance of two hundred leagues.
a. intr. To make discoveries, to explore. Obs.
1582 N. Lichefield tr. F. L. de Castanheda 1st Bk. Hist. Discouerie E. Indias iv. 10 b, Vpon Christmas daye, they had discouered along the Coast, three score and tenne leagues to the Eastward.
1685 N. Crouch Eng. Empire in Amer. ii. 39 Capt. Henry Hudson in 1607 discovered farther North toward the Pole than perhaps any before him.
1821 R. Southey Exped. Orsua 129 We set out from Peru for the river Maranham, to discover and settle there.
†b. To have or obtain a view: to look; to see.
1588 T. Hickock tr. C. Federici Voy. & Trauaile f. 27v, Standing at the one gate, you may discouer to the other.
1647 J. Saltmarsh Sparkles of Glory (1847) 141 They that have discovered up into free~grace or the mystery of salvation.
1653 H. Holcroft tr. Procopius Hist. Wars i. 20 From a hil discovering round, they saw a dust, and soon after a great troop of Vandals.
1667 G. Digby Elvira ii. 27 There’s no body in the street, it is so light One may discover a mile.
1711 Pope Ess. Crit. 37 He steer’d securely, and discover’d far, Led by the Light of the Mæonian Star.
†11. trans. and intr. To distinguish, discern. Obs.
1620 Horæ Subsecivæ 453 This kind of Flatterie‥is so closely intermixed with friendship, that it can hardly be discouered from it.
1652 W. Brough Sacred Princ. (ed. 2) 447 Discover better betwixt the Spirit of God, and the World.
1663 Marquis of Worcester Cent. Names & Scantlings Inventions vi, Far as Eye can discover black from white.
1796 E. Parsons Myst. Warning III. 59 A semblance of honour I had not the penetration to discover from a reality.
diˈscovering n. and adj.
a1375 William of Palerne l. 1044, I drede me of descuuering, for ȝe haue dwelled long.
1477 Caxton tr. R. Le Fèvre Hist. Jason (1913) 49 The mouth whiche is instrument of the dischargyng and discouering of hertes.
1489 (1380) J. Barbour Bruce (Adv.) i. 242 Thus contrar thingis euir-mar, Discoweryngis off ye toyer ar.
1555 R. Eden tr. Peter Martyr of Angleria Decades of Newe Worlde f. 311v, The fyrste discouerynge of the Weste Indies.
1583 A. Golding tr. J. Calvin Serm. on Deut. lviii. 349 To the end they might not vse any odde shiftes to keepe their naughtinesse from discouering.
a1631 Donne in Cornhill Mag. May (1865) 618 All will spy in thy face A blushing, womanly, discovering grace.
1663 B. Gerbier Counsel to Builders 19 The middle Transome would be opposite to a mans eye, hindersome to the free discovering of the Countrey.
1668 Earl of Clarendon Contempl. Psalms in Tracts (1727) 668 Who love such discovering words [etc.].
1723 J. Woodward Ess. Nat. Hist. Earth (ed. 3) 244 Rivers and Rains also, are instrumental to the Discovering of Amber.
Additions series 1993-7
d. Theatr. pass. or pa. pple. Of a person: to be disclosed on stage in a particular position or state as the curtain rises. (Usu. in stage directions.)
1716 [see sense 3a].
1780 R. B. Sheridan School for Scandal i. i. 1 Lady Sneerwell and Snake discovered at a tea-table.
c1852 D. Boucicault Corsican Brothers i. i. 5 Marie discovered singing while she sits at her spinning wheel.
?1884 W. S. Gilbert Sorcerer (new ed.) ii. 18 All the peasantry are discovered asleep on the ground.
1920 E. O’Neill Beyond Horizon iii. i. 124 At the rise of the curtain Ruth is discovered sitting by the stove.
1973 A. Ayckbourn Time & Time Again i. i. 1 When the Curtain rises, Leonard, a man in his late thirties, is discovered in the conservatory.