Compare the following:

  • How did you find the restaurant? It was excellent. I enjoyed my meal.
  • How did you find the restaurant? I looked it up in a street directory.

Asking, "How did you find [something]" to query someone's opinion or experience doesn't seem to relate directly "find" in the context of locating something. Even as a metaphor, referring to the act of locating something rarely includes a description of the thing itself. Are the two uses homonymic then? Or polysemic? Why this wording? Is there some history to the phrase or word that can clarify?

  • Hello and welcome! I've added a couple of examples so that the difference you're describing is immediately obvious. Please feel free to edit further or to roll back the changes.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 11:16

1 Answer 1


The OED has, as the primary meaning of "find" (going back to Old English): " I. To come upon by chance or in the course of events."

Sense 4b (also found in Old English) is given as: "With object and complement or infinitive. To discover or perceive (something) to be in a specified state or condition."

This later develops [1545] into Sense 5b: "In a more subjective sense: to feel to be (agreeable, disagreeable, etc.), to consider or regard as (ridiculous, excellent, etc.)."

So the first sense of "find" noted in the question, an act of estimation, is a direct development, first occurring in the mid-sixteenth century, of a word originally found [!] in Old English, and referring to an act of locating -- the second sense in the question.

  • @Edwin Ashworth Oops! I accidentally deleted your Edit without meaning to! Please reinstate it. Apologies. RH Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 15:23
  • @Edwin Ashworth Exactly. Your Edit was quite correct, and I hadn't intended to reverse it. (I'm still coming to terms with the input conventions on this forum, and thick-fingered in this instance.) Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 15:32
  • Actually, the "[!]" should probably be removed as well. Intrusive and unnecessary on my part. Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 15:43

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