Meanings

1.
sieving, discriminating
(Most notable English members of this family go back to the Latin "cernere" which meant "to sift". It's the origin of words like certain, concert, excrete and secret. Other members are crisis, crime and critical. )
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Word Family

Root: *(s)krei-

The core idea of this root was

sieving

And based on that, it took on a figurative sense of discriminating, distinguishing.

There aren’t many German offspring but English has quite a few of them.
The most important branch is the one around the Latin cernere which was about separating, sifting, distinguishing.
Here’s a little overview over words in that branch:

  • discern (“separate”)
  • concern (“mix together, gathering together”)
  • secret, secretary (“separate away”)
  • excrete (“separate out”)
  • discreet (“separated off”)
  • discriminate (“separate off”)

And there are other surprising members as well, like these (and more):

  • critic, criterion (“passing judgements, discernments”)
  • certain (“distinguished with certainty”)
  • ascertain (“make certain”)
  • crisis (Originally in Greek: “moment of selection/judgement”)

 

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