notice v. detect v. discover

< Previous | Next >

hhtt

Senior Member
Turkish
"A Turkish heavyweight boxing champion sauntering down a Hamburg street with his mother on his arm can scarcely be blamed for failing to notice that he is being shadowed by a skinny boy in a black coat."

Which of the following is correct, idiomatic and in the same sense as the original?

1) A Turkish heavyweight boxing champion sauntering down a Hamburg street with his mother on his arm can scarcely be blamed for failing to detect that he is being shadowed by a skinny boy in a black coat

2) A Turkish heavyweight boxing champion sauntering down a Hamburg street with his mother on his arm can scarcely be blamed for failing to to discover that he is being shadowed by a skinny boy in a black coat.

Source and the link:A Most Wanted Man by John Le Carre

Thank you.
 
  • hhtt

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Why cannot discover be a synonym of notice here?

    Definition: determine the existence, presence, or fact of
    Synonyms:detect, discover, find, observe.
    Source:Wordweb

    Thank you.
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Why cannot discover be a synonym of notice here?

    Definition: determine the existence, presence, or fact of
    Synonyms:detect, discover, find, observe.
    Source:Wordweb

    Thank you.
    It's similar, but you usually deliberately set out to discover something. Noticing is more passive.
     

    pines222

    Member
    English - USA
    "Detect" somewhat implies prior wariness or watchfulness. Like discover, sometimes you detect something by accident, but it's usually because of being watchful of something previously, as in "The security system detected the burglers breaking in to the bank." Like The Newt said, "discover" is more generally associated with planned searching. But it is complicated...sometimes these words are interchangeable and sometimes they are not.
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "Detect" somewhat implies prior wariness or watchfulness. Like discover, sometimes you detect something by accident, but it's usually because of being watchful of something previously, as in "The security system detected the burglers breaking in to the bank." Like The Newt said, "discover" is more generally associated with planned searching. But it is complicated...sometimes these words are interchangeable and sometimes they are not.
    Also, I suspect that we use "detect" (as in your example) more with inanimate objects. People notice things, sensors detect them.
     

    pines222

    Member
    English - USA
    Yes. detect+person isn't grammatically correct. For instance, "I detected him" doesn't sound right, but "I detected that he was near me" is correct.

    I think the same is true of "discover." In most cases, you wouldn't say, "I discovered him." Correct is: "I found him."
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Why cannot discover be a synonym of notice here?

    Definition: determine the existence, presence, or fact of
    Synonyms:detect, discover, find, observe.
    Source:Wordweb
    Because that is not how you should use a dictionary. A word's meaning is influenced by the context in which it is used. The definitions that are given in "Wordweb" are meanings that are specific to certain contexts.

    hhtt,

    What is your purpose in asking this question?
    Which of the following is correct, idiomatic and in the same sense as the original?
    As the Newt hinted in #2, neither alternative has the same sense as the original.

    Notice, in this context, has the sense of "become aware of [something/someone] in the normal course of events"
    Detect suggests he was looking for evidence of the skinny boy, and/or that the skinny boy was trying not evade his notice.
    Discover suggests that the skinny boy was hiding and that the wrestler could be looking for him.
     
    Last edited:

    hhtt

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Because that is not how you should use a dictionary. A word's meaning is influenced by the context in which it is used. The definitions that are given in "Wordweb" are meanings that are specific to certain contexts.

    hhtt,

    What is your purpose in asking this question?
    As the Newt hinted in #2, neither alternative has the same sense as the original.

    Notice, in this context, has the sense of "become aware of [something/someone] in the normal course of events"
    Detect suggests he was looking for evidence of the skinny boy, and/or that the skinny boy was trying not evade his notice.
    Discover suggests that the skinny boy was hiding and that the wrestler could be looking for him.
    Simply saying to get the nuances.

    Thank you.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top