noun Date: 1586 1. the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure ; skill in discerning 2. an act of discerning Synonyms: discernment, discrimination, perception, penetration, insight, acumen mean a power to see what is not evident to the average mind. discernment stresses accuracy (as in reading character or motives or appreciating art) <
the discernment to know true friends
. discrimination stresses the power to distinguish and select what is true or appropriate or excellent <
the discrimination that develops through listening to a lot of great music
. perception implies quick and often sympathetic discernment (as of shades of feeling) <
a novelist of keen perception into human motives
. penetration implies a searching mind that goes beyond what is obvious or superficial <
lacks the penetration to see the scorn beneath their friendly smiles
. insight suggests depth of discernment coupled with understanding sympathy <
a documentary providing insight into the plight of the homeless
. acumen implies characteristic penetration combined with keen practical judgment <
a director of reliable box-office acumen

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

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