September 23, 2018
ascertain (verb)
\a-ser-TAYN\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: to learn with certainty : find out
How do you use it?
"Harry kept his eyes skinned for a sign of Hagrid all the way down the slushy High Street, and suggested a visit to the Three Broomsticks once he had ascertained that Hagrid was not in any of the shops." (J. K. Rowling, _Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire_)
Are you a word wiz?

Try to ascertain the answer to this question: which of the following is a synonym of "ascertain"?

Were you able to ascertain that B, "discover," is the correct answer? Both "discover" and "ascertain" have to do with finding out what you previously did not know. "Ascertain" is used especially when there's an effort to find the facts or the truth about something of which you know you are ignorant or uncertain, as in "We were unable to ascertain the source of the smell." "Discover" often applies to something that requires exploration or investigation or even a chance encounter, as in "We discovered a secret hiding place under the bridge."
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