1. Compulsory disclosure, at a party’s request, of information that relates to the litigation. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26-37; Fed. R. Crim. P. 16. The primary discovery devices are interrogatories, depositions, requests for admissions, and requests for production. Although, discovery typically comes from parties, courts also allow limited discovery from nonparties.
2. The facts or documents disclosed <the new associate spent all her time reviewing discovery>.
3. The pretrial phase of a lawsuit during which depositions, interrogatories, and other forms of discovery are conducted. discover,vb. — discoverable, adj. 
1. A remedy for the sole purpose of compelling the adverse party to answer its allegations and interrogatories, and thereby to disclose facts within his own knowledge, information, or belief, or to disclose and produce documents, books and other things within his possession, custody, or control, being usually employed to enable a party to prosecute or defend an action. 23 Am J2d Depos § 141. 
1. A means for providing a party, in advance of trial, with access to facts that are within the knowledge of the other side, to enable the party to better try her case. A motion to compel discovery is the procedural means for compelling the adverse party to reveal such facts or to produce documents, books, and other things within his possession or control. 
Excerpt from Geoffrey C. Hazard Jr. & Michele Taruffo’s American Civil Procedure: An Introduction (1993):
“Discovery has broad scope. According to Federal Rule 26, which is the model in modern procedural codes, inquiry may be made into ‘any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the subject matter of the action.’ Thus, discovery may be had of facts incidentally relevant to the issues in the pleadings even if the facts do not directly prove or disprove the facts in question.” 
reciprocal discovery – the corresponding rights and duties of both sides of litigation to engage in discovery. — The term “reciprocal discovery” is also sometimes used to describe reverse Jencks material.
Types of Discovery
Pertaining to Civil Cases:
initial disclosure – in civil practice, the requirement that parties make available to each other, without first receiving a discovery request: contact information for all involved parties, a copy of all relevant documents and data compilations, a damages computation, and relevant insurance agreements. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(1)(A)-(D).
pretrial discovery – discovery conducted before trial to reveal facts and develop evidence; prevents parties from surprising each other with evidence at trial.
jurisdictional discovery – discovery that is limited to finding facts relevant to whether the court has jurisdiction, sometimes allowed by a court prior to ruling on a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.
Terms Pertaining only to Criminal Cases:
Jencks material – a prosecution witness’s written or recorded pretrial statement that a criminal defendant, upon filing a motion after the witness has testified, is entitled to have in preparing to cross-examine the witness; the statement may may be used to impeach the witness.
Jencks rule – the rule that a defendant in a federal criminal prosecution has the right to examine government papers to be better able to cross-examine or impeach government witnesses.
Jencks Act – a defendant in a federal criminal prosecution has the right to examine government papers to be better able to cross-examine or impeach government witnesses, but only after the witness has testified. 18 USC § 3500.
reverse Jencks material – a defense witness’s written or recorded pretrial statement that a prosecutor is entitled to have, via pretrial discovery, in preparing to cross-examine the witness; discoverable statements include a witness’s signed or adopted written statement, and transcripts or recordings of the witness s oral statements, including grand-jury testimony. U.S. v. Nobles, 422 U. S. 225, 231-34, 95 S. Ct. 2160, 2166-68 (1975); Fed. R. Crim. P. 26. 2. — aka reverse Jencks; reverse discovery; reciprocal discovery.
accelerated discovery: (1973) A party’s production of relevant evidence to an opponent at a time earlier than would otherwise be required by rule or standing order of the court. * The accelerated discovery is usually carried out in compliance with a specific court order or the parties’ agreement — aka accelerated disclosure.
document discovery: The use of devices to request an opponent’s production of documents containing information relevant to litigation.
discovery abuse – (1975) 1. The misuse of the pretrial discovery process, especially by making overbroad requests for information that is unnecessary or beyond the scope of permissible disclosure or by conducting discovery for an improper purpose. — aka abusive discovery.
Excerpt from Charles Alan Wright’s The Law of Federal Courts (5th ed. 1994):
“The term ‘discovery abuse’ has been used as if it were a single concept, but it includes several different things. Thus, it is useful to subdivide ‘abuse’ into ‘misuse’ and ‘overuse.’ What is referred to as ‘misuse’ would include not only direct violation of the rules, as by failing to respond to a discovery request within’ the stated time limit, but also more subtle attempts to hara s or obstruct an opponent, as by giving obviously inadequate answers or by requesting information that clearly is outside the scope of discovery. By ‘overuse’ is meant asking for more discovery than is necessary or appropriate to the particular case. ‘Overuse,’ in turn, can be subdivided into problems of ‘depth’ and of ‘breadth,’ with ‘depth’ referring to discovery that may be relevant but is simply excessive and ‘breadth’ referring to discovery requests that go into matters too far removed from the case.” 
1. The failure to respond adequately to proper discovery requests. — aka abuse of discovery.
2. The mandatory divulging of information to a litigation opponent according to procedural rules. — aka pretrial disclosure; compulsory disclosure; automatic disclosure; discovery disclosure. — disclosural, adj.“
Excerpt from Jay E.‘Grenig & Jeffrey S. Kinsler’s Handbook of Federal Civil Discovery and Disclosure:
“Rule 26(a) [of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure] reflects a shift away from the traditional method of obtaining discovery through the service of written demands toward requiring automatic disclosure by the parties of information that would invariably be requested. The goal of automatic disclosure is the creation of a more efficient and expeditious discovery process. . . . Rule 26(a)(1) provides for the initial disclosure of specified information relating to witnesses, documents, and insurance agreements. Rule 26(a) (2) provides for the disclosure of information regarding experts who may be used at trial. Rule 26(a)(3) provides for specified pretrial disclosures regarding witnesses, evidence, and objections.” 
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: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6
: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949). Edited by William S. Anderson. © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931
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: Geoffrey C. Hazard Jr. & Michele Taruffo, American Civil Procedure: An Introduction 115 (1993).
: Charles Alan Wright, The Law of Federal Courts 5 81, at 580 (5th ed. 1994).
: Jay E.‘Grenig & Jeffrey S. Kinsler’s Handbook of Federal Civil Discovery and Disclosure s 1.15, arcs-66 (2d ed. 2002)