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descry (verb) catch sight of, especially something a long way away.
When you descry someone, you catch sight of them especially when they are a long way from you. They appear to you vaguely, moving towards you and appearing clearer and clearer, as they approach you. 'Standing on the shore, he descried what looked like a ship.' This means he saw, far off on the sea, what appeared to be a ship.
- As Sam floated in his lifeboat, waiting for rescue, he descried at a distance something looking like a trawler, but unfortunately for him, it turned out to be a whale.
- Hitchhiking along the dust road, she descried a truck at a distance on which she expected a lift. Unfortunately, however, the truck roared past her leaving her in a trail of dust.