Top 60 Slang For Discern – Meaning & Usage

When it comes to being discerning in today’s fast-paced world, having the right slang at your fingertips can make all the difference. Join us as we unveil a collection of the most current and trendy slang terms for discerning individuals. Stay ahead of the curve and elevate your language game with our carefully curated list.

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1. suss out

To suss out means to carefully examine or investigate something in order to understand or determine it. It is often used when trying to gather information or make sense of a situation.

  • For example, “I need to suss out the best route to take.”
  • A detective might say, “I’m trying to suss out who the suspect is.”
  • Someone might ask, “Can you suss out what they’re really trying to say?”

2. catch on

To catch on means to grasp or comprehend something. It is often used when someone begins to understand or realize something, especially after initially being unaware or confused.

  • For instance, “It took me a while to catch on to the new software.”
  • A friend might say, “I finally caught on to what you were trying to tell me.”
  • Someone might comment, “It’s amazing how quickly kids catch on to new technology.”

3. get the drift

To get the drift means to understand the general idea or concept of something, even if the details are not fully explained. It is often used when someone wants to convey a message without going into all the specifics.

  • For example, “I didn’t understand everything he said, but I got the drift.”
  • A teacher might say, “Let me give you the general idea so you get the drift.”
  • Someone might ask, “Do you get the drift of what I’m saying?”

4. pick up on

To pick up on means to notice or perceive something, often something subtle or unspoken. It is often used when someone becomes aware of a hidden meaning or underlying message.

  • For instance, “She quickly picked up on his sarcasm.”
  • A friend might say, “I can pick up on your mood even without you saying anything.”
  • Someone might comment, “It’s important to be able to pick up on nonverbal cues in social situations.”

5. read between the lines

To read between the lines means to look for hidden meaning or understand something that is not explicitly stated. It is often used when someone wants to convey a deeper message or when there is subtext in a conversation or text.

  • For example, “She said she was fine, but I could read between the lines and tell something was wrong.”
  • A writer might say, “The true meaning of the poem can only be understood by reading between the lines.”
  • Someone might suggest, “When negotiating, it’s important to read between the lines to understand the other party’s true intentions.”

6. work out

To understand or solve a problem or situation.

  • For example, “I can’t work out why my computer keeps crashing.”
  • A person might say, “I need to work out the best way to approach this project.”
  • In a conversation about a complicated math problem, someone might ask, “Can you help me work out this equation?”

7. fathom

To fully understand or grasp the meaning or significance of something.

  • For instance, “I can’t fathom why she would make such a decision.”
  • A person might say, “I can’t fathom how people can be so cruel.”
  • In a discussion about a complex scientific theory, someone might admit, “I can’t fathom all the details, but it’s fascinating.”

8. grasp

To understand or comprehend something.

  • For example, “I’m having trouble grasping the concept of quantum physics.”
  • A person might say, “I finally grasped the meaning of that poem after reading it several times.”
  • In a conversation about a difficult novel, someone might ask, “Did you grasp the symbolism in that last chapter?”

9. penetrate

To understand or see through something deeply or thoroughly.

  • For instance, “Her insightful analysis penetrated the surface of the issue.”
  • A person might say, “I can’t penetrate the mind of an artist; their work is always a mystery.”
  • In a discussion about a complex conspiracy theory, someone might ask, “Have you managed to penetrate the truth behind all the rumors?”

10. unravel

To understand or solve a complex or mysterious situation or problem.

  • For example, “She managed to unravel the mystery and find the hidden treasure.”
  • A person might say, “I’m trying to unravel the secrets of the universe.”
  • In a conversation about a complicated legal case, someone might ask, “Can you unravel the details of this lawsuit for me?”

11. decipher

To decode or interpret a message or information that is difficult to understand or encrypted. The term “decipher” is often used when trying to make sense of something that is unclear or confusing.

  • For example, a cryptographer might say, “I was able to decipher the message using a complex algorithm.”
  • In a discussion about ancient scripts, someone might ask, “Can anyone decipher this ancient hieroglyph?”
  • A person trying to understand a complex puzzle might say, “I need to decipher these clues to solve the mystery.”

12. deduce

To reach a conclusion or make an inference based on evidence or reasoning. “Deduce” is often used to describe the process of using logical thinking to come to a logical conclusion.

  • For instance, a detective might say, “Based on the evidence, I can deduce that the suspect was at the scene of the crime.”
  • In a debate, someone might argue, “From the data provided, we can deduce that the hypothesis is correct.”
  • A person trying to understand someone’s motives might say, “By observing their behavior, I can deduce their intentions.”

13. discern

To recognize, distinguish, or understand something with clarity or precision. “Discern” is often used to describe the ability to perceive details or differences that are not immediately obvious.

  • For example, a wine connoisseur might say, “I can discern the subtle flavors and aromas in this vintage.”
  • In a discussion about art, someone might comment, “It takes a trained eye to discern the artist’s intent.”
  • A person trying to make a decision might say, “I need more information to discern which option is the best.”

14. apprehend

To understand or comprehend something fully. “Apprehend” is often used to describe the act of mentally capturing or grasping a concept or idea.

  • For instance, a student might say, “I finally apprehended the concept after studying it for hours.”
  • In a discussion about philosophy, someone might comment, “It can be difficult to apprehend abstract concepts.”
  • A person trying to learn a new language might say, “I’m still working on apprehending the grammar rules.”

15. comprehend

To grasp the meaning or significance of something. “Comprehend” is often used to describe the act of fully understanding or making sense of information or ideas.

  • For example, a teacher might say, “I want my students to comprehend the material, not just memorize it.”
  • In a discussion about complex theories, someone might ask, “Can anyone comprehend the implications of this theory?”
  • A person trying to solve a difficult problem might say, “I need more time to comprehend the situation before making a decision.”

16. get the picture

This phrase is used to indicate that someone understands or comprehends a situation or concept.

  • For example, if someone explains a complex math problem and the listener understands, they might say, “Oh, I get the picture now.”
  • In a conversation about a movie plot twist, someone might say, “Once you watch the whole film, you’ll get the picture.”
  • If someone explains their point of view on a controversial topic and the listener understands, they might say, “I get the picture, thanks for explaining.”

17. get a handle on

This phrase is used to express the act of gaining understanding or control over something.

  • For instance, if someone is struggling with a new task at work and they finally figure it out, they might say, “I finally got a handle on it.”
  • In a conversation about a difficult concept, someone might say, “I need to do more research to get a handle on this topic.”
  • If someone is dealing with a chaotic situation and they start to regain control, they might say, “I’m starting to get a handle on things now.”

18. clock

This term is used to indicate that someone has noticed or observed something.

  • For example, if someone sees a friend walking by, they might say, “Hey, I just clocked John on the street.”
  • In a conversation about fashion, someone might comment, “I always clock the latest trends.”
  • If someone notices a mistake in a document, they might say, “I just clocked a typo on this page.”

19. get a read on

This phrase is used to express the act of assessing or understanding someone or something.

  • For instance, if someone is trying to figure out a person’s true intentions, they might say, “I’m trying to get a read on her.”
  • In a discussion about a new technology, someone might comment, “I need more time to get a read on how it works.”
  • If someone is trying to understand a difficult concept, they might say, “I’m still trying to get a read on this theory.”

20. size up

This slang term is used to describe the act of evaluating or assessing someone or something.

  • For example, if someone is considering a potential opponent in a competition, they might say, “I need to size up the competition.”
  • In a conversation about job applicants, someone might comment, “We need to size up each candidate’s qualifications.”
  • If someone is assessing the value of a used car, they might say, “I’m going to size up the vehicle before making an offer.”

21. catch the drift

This phrase is used to ask if someone understands the underlying meaning or message of a conversation or situation.

  • For example, “I explained the plan to him, but I’m not sure if he caught the drift.”
  • In a discussion about a complex topic, someone might say, “Let me break it down so you can catch the drift.”
  • A person might ask, “You’re following along, right? You catch the drift?”

22. get the hang of

This phrase is used to describe the process of becoming familiar or skilled at a particular task or activity.

  • For instance, “It took me a while, but I finally got the hang of playing the guitar.”
  • In a conversation about learning a new skill, someone might say, “It can be frustrating at first, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier.”
  • A person might advise, “Just keep practicing, and you’ll get the hang of it.”

23. get the point

This phrase is used to indicate that someone understands the main idea or concept being discussed.

  • For example, “I explained the rules to her, and she quickly got the point.”
  • In a debate or argument, someone might say, “I’ve made my argument clear. Do you get the point?”
  • A person might ask, “I’ve explained it multiple times. Do you finally get the point?”

24. see the light

This phrase is used to describe the moment when someone finally understands or realizes something after a period of confusion or uncertainty.

  • For instance, “After hours of studying, I finally saw the light and understood the concept.”
  • In a discussion about personal growth, someone might say, “I went through a difficult time, but I eventually saw the light and learned from it.”
  • A person might exclaim, “I finally see the light! It all makes sense now.”

25. twig

This slang term is used to describe the act of grasping or comprehending something.

  • For example, “It took me a while, but I finally twigged what she was trying to say.”
  • In a conversation about a complicated topic, someone might say, “I’m starting to twig, but I still have a few questions.”
  • A person might ask, “Do you twig what I’m getting at here? It’s important to understand.”

26. get the idea

To comprehend or grasp the concept or meaning of something. “Get the idea” is often used to encourage someone to understand a point or suggestion.

  • For instance, a teacher might say, “Let me explain it one more time. Do you get the idea?”
  • In a brainstorming session, a colleague might ask, “Does everyone get the idea behind this new project?”
  • A friend might say, “I get the idea, but I’m not sure how to put it into practice.”

27. cotton on

To understand or realize something, especially after a period of confusion or misunderstanding. “Cotton on” is often used to describe the moment when someone finally comprehends a situation or concept.

  • For example, a person might say, “I finally cottoned on to what she was trying to say.”
  • In a puzzle game, a player might exclaim, “Ah, I’ve cottoned on to the solution!”
  • A friend might ask, “Have you cottoned on to the fact that he’s been lying to us?”

28. get the message

To understand or comprehend the intended meaning or purpose of a message or communication. “Get the message” is often used to indicate that someone has understood a hint or instruction.

  • For instance, a parent might say, “I told him to clean his room, but I don’t think he’s getting the message.”
  • In a movie, a character might say, “I think the bad guys are finally getting the message that we won’t back down.”
  • A boss might say to an employee, “I need you to get the message that we need to improve our customer service.”

29. get the gist

To understand the general or essential meaning or main point of something. “Get the gist” is often used when someone wants to convey the overall concept or summary of a longer piece of information.

  • For example, a teacher might say, “Read the passage and tell me if you get the gist of the story.”
  • In a meeting, a presenter might ask, “Does everyone get the gist of the new marketing strategy?”
  • A friend might say, “I didn’t read the whole article, but I got the gist of it from the headline.”

30. catch on to

To understand or comprehend something, especially after a period of confusion or misunderstanding. “Catch on to” is often used to describe the moment when someone finally understands or figures out a situation or concept.

  • For instance, a student might say, “It took me a while, but I finally caught on to the math problem.”
  • In a conversation about a new trend, a person might say, “I’m starting to catch on to why everyone is obsessed with this fashion style.”
  • A colleague might ask, “Have you caught on to the new software update? It has some great new features.”

31. put two and two together

To understand or deduce something based on available information or evidence.

  • For example, “When I saw her wearing a wedding ring and heard her talking about her husband, I put two and two together and realized she was married.”
  • In a detective story, a character might say, “I put two and two together and realized the suspect had a motive for the crime.”
  • A friend might say, “I saw you leave the party early and then saw you with a new phone the next day. I put two and two together and figured out you won a raffle.”

32. get wise to

To become knowledgeable or aware of something.

  • For instance, “I finally got wise to his tricks and stopped falling for his scams.”
  • In a mystery novel, a character might say, “The detective got wise to the suspect’s alibi and uncovered the truth.”
  • A friend might say, “I got wise to his lies and stopped trusting him.”

33. pick up

To understand or grasp something, especially quickly or easily.

  • For example, “She picked up on the subtle hints and realized he was planning a surprise party.”
  • In a language class, a student might say, “I picked up Spanish quickly because I had previous experience with a similar language.”
  • A coworker might say, “I picked up on the new software system faster than my colleagues.”

34. infer

To reach a conclusion based on evidence or reasoning.

  • For instance, “From her tone of voice, I inferred that she was angry.”
  • In a scientific study, a researcher might say, “Based on the data, we can infer that there is a correlation between the two variables.”
  • A teacher might say, “From the student’s incorrect answers, I inferred that they didn’t understand the concept.”

35. perceive

To become aware of or recognize something through the senses or mental processes.

  • For example, “I perceived a change in her behavior and knew something was wrong.”
  • In a psychology experiment, a participant might be asked to perceive subtle differences in visual stimuli.
  • A friend might say, “I perceive a lot of tension between those two coworkers.”

36. recognize

To identify or acknowledge something or someone.

  • For example, “I recognize that song, it’s one of my favorites.”
  • A person might say, “I didn’t recognize you with your new hairstyle.”
  • In a meeting, someone might recognize a colleague’s contribution by saying, “I want to recognize John for his hard work on this project.”

37. detect

To notice or perceive something, often something subtle or hidden.

  • For instance, “The dog can detect the scent of drugs.”
  • A person might say, “I detected a hint of sarcasm in her voice.”
  • In a crime investigation, a detective might detect a clue that leads to a breakthrough.
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38. puzzle out

To solve or understand something that is confusing or puzzling.

  • For example, “It took me a while to puzzle out the answer to that riddle.”
  • A person might say, “I’m trying to puzzle out how this machine works.”
  • In a mystery novel, the protagonist might puzzle out the identity of the killer.

39. sort out

To find a solution or bring order to a problem or situation.

  • For instance, “Let’s sort out this misunderstanding and move on.”
  • A person might say, “I need to sort out my priorities and focus on what’s important.”
  • In a conflict, a mediator helps the parties involved sort out their differences and reach a resolution.

40. crack

To understand or solve something, often something difficult or complex.

  • For example, “She cracked the code and gained access to the secure files.”
  • A person might say, “I can’t crack this math problem, it’s too challenging.”
  • In a puzzle game, the player needs to crack the puzzle to advance to the next level.

41. Spot

To see or observe something, often with a keen eye for detail.

  • For example, “I spotted a rare bird in the park.”
  • A detective might say, “I spotted a clue that led me to the suspect.”
  • Someone might exclaim, “I spotted my favorite celebrity at the mall!”

42. Pinpoint

To accurately determine or locate something.

  • For instance, “He was able to pinpoint the exact location of the treasure.”
  • A scientist might say, “We need to pinpoint the cause of the problem.”
  • A teacher might ask, “Can you pinpoint the main idea of the passage?”

43. Distinguish

To recognize or identify the differences between things.

  • For example, “She could easily distinguish between the twins.”
  • A wine connoisseur might say, “I can distinguish the subtle flavors in this red wine.”
  • A music critic might write, “The artist’s unique sound distinguishes them from other musicians.”

44. Discernment

The ability to make good judgments and understand things clearly.

  • For instance, “His discernment allowed him to make wise decisions.”
  • A book reviewer might say, “The author’s discernment of human nature shines through in this novel.”
  • A mentor might advise, “Developing discernment will help you navigate through life’s challenges.”

45. Ascertain

To find out or determine something with certainty.

  • For example, “He ascertained the truth through careful investigation.”
  • A scientist might say, “We need to ascertain the cause of the experiment’s failure.”
  • A detective might ask, “Can you ascertain the suspect’s alibi?”

46. Uncover

To reveal or bring to light something that was previously hidden or unknown. “Uncover” is often used to describe the act of finding out information or exposing the truth.

  • For example, a journalist might say, “I was able to uncover a major scandal through my investigation.”
  • In a mystery novel, a character might say, “The detective was determined to uncover the identity of the killer.”
  • A person discussing historical research might mention, “Archaeologists often uncover ancient artifacts during excavations.”

47. Decode

To decipher or interpret something that is difficult to understand, such as a code or a complex message. “Decode” is commonly used to describe the process of breaking down information or finding the hidden meaning.

  • For instance, a spy might say, “I was able to decode the secret message using my encryption skills.”
  • In a tech-related discussion, a person might mention, “Programmers need to decode the error messages to identify the problem.”
  • A person discussing dreams might say, “Sometimes it’s hard to decode the symbolism in our dreams.”

48. Pick out

To recognize or identify something or someone from a group or a crowded place. “Pick out” is often used to describe the act of visually distinguishing or selecting something.

  • For example, a teacher might say, “Can you pick out the correct answer from the options?”
  • In a fashion discussion, someone might say, “I can easily pick out your style from a crowd.”
  • A person discussing a lineup might mention, “The witness was able to pick out the suspect from a group of similar-looking individuals.”

49. Identify

To determine or establish the identity of something or someone. “Identify” is commonly used to describe the act of acknowledging or familiarizing oneself with a particular person, object, or characteristic.

  • For instance, a police officer might say, “I need to identify the suspect before making an arrest.”
  • In a biology class, a student might mention, “It’s important to identify different species of plants.”
  • A person discussing personal growth might say, “I’m trying to identify my strengths and weaknesses.”

50. Realize

To become aware of or comprehend something that was previously unknown or unnoticed. “Realize” is often used to describe the process of coming to a realization or understanding.

  • For example, a character in a movie might say, “I didn’t realize how much I loved him until he was gone.”
  • In a philosophical discussion, someone might mention, “It’s important to realize the impermanence of all things.”
  • A person reflecting on a mistake might say, “I realized that I had been making the wrong decision all along.”

51. Tell apart

To differentiate or recognize the differences between two or more things. “Tell apart” is a colloquial term often used to describe the act of discerning or identifying distinct characteristics.

  • For example, “I can’t tell apart the twins because they look so similar.”
  • In a discussion about similar-looking species, one might say, “It’s difficult to tell apart the venomous snake from the harmless one.”
  • A person might ask, “Can you tell apart the genuine product from the counterfeit?”

52. Judge

To form an opinion or make a decision based on careful consideration or evaluation. “Judge” in the context of discerning refers to the act of making a judgment or assessment.

  • For instance, “You can’t judge a book by its cover” means that you can’t make accurate assumptions about something or someone based solely on appearance.
  • In a courtroom setting, a judge might say, “I will now judge the defendant based on the evidence presented.”
  • A person might comment, “Don’t judge me until you’ve walked in my shoes.”

53. Read

To understand or make sense of written or printed words, symbols, or signs. In the context of discerning, “read” refers to the act of interpreting or comprehending information.

  • For example, “I need to read the instructions before assembling the furniture.”
  • In a discussion about body language, one might say, “You can often read a person’s emotions through their facial expressions.”
  • A person might ask, “Can you read between the lines and understand the hidden meaning?”

54. Descry

To catch sight of or notice something, often with difficulty or from a distance. “Descry” is a more poetic or archaic term for discerning or perceiving.

  • For instance, “From the lookout point, you can descry the city skyline.”
  • In a discussion about wildlife, one might say, “If you’re lucky, you might descry a rare bird in the forest.”
  • A person might comment, “I couldn’t descry any familiar faces in the crowd.”

55. Spy

To secretly or discreetly watch or keep an eye on someone or something. “Spy” in the context of discerning refers to the act of observing or monitoring.

  • For example, “The detective spied on the suspect to gather evidence.”
  • In a discussion about espionage, one might say, “Spies are trained to spy on enemy organizations.”
  • A person might ask, “Did you see anyone spying on us?”

56. Espy

To espysomething means to catch a glimpse of it or to see it briefly and unexpectedly.

  • For example, “I managed to espya rare bird in the forest.”
  • In a spy novel, a character might say, “I espiedthe enemy agent from my hiding spot.”
  • A person describing a beautiful sunset might say, “I espieda stunning display of colors on the horizon.”

57. Disclose

To disclose something means to reveal or make it known, especially information that was previously hidden or secret.

  • For instance, “The whistleblower decided to disclosethe company’s illegal activities.”
  • In a court case, a lawyer might demand, “The witness must disclosetheir relationship to the defendant.”
  • A journalist might write, “The leaked documents disclosethe government’s plans for tax reform.”

58. Unearth

To unearth something means to discover or uncover it, especially something that was hidden or buried.

  • For example, “Archaeologists unearthedancient artifacts at the excavation site.”
  • In a mystery novel, a detective might say, “I believe this clue will help us unearththe truth.”
  • A person searching through old family photos might exclaim, “I unearthedsome rare pictures of my grandparents!”

59. Expose

To expose something means to reveal or uncover it, often with the intention of bringing it to light or making it known to others.

  • For instance, “The journalist exposedthe corruption scandal that had been hidden for years.”
  • In a courtroom drama, a lawyer might say, “I will expose the defendant’s lies and deceit.”
  • A whistleblower might say, “I have evidence that will expose the company’s illegal activities.”

60. Unveil

To unveil something means to reveal or introduce it for the first time, often in a dramatic or formal manner.

  • For example, “The company unveiledits new product at a press conference.”
  • In a fashion show, a designer might say, “I am excited to unveilmy latest collection.”
  • A politician might announce, “Tomorrow, I will unveilmy plan to improve education in our state.”