Translation:He had discovered a towel in the refrigerator.
That reminds me of my late grandpa. He used to misplace his glasses all the time. Once, he looked in every cupboard, behind the couch, on the nightstand, in the medicine cabinet... and eventually, he got to looking in the fridge. His glasses weren't there either. But his wallet was.
Vila i frid, Gerhard.
They're not really synonymous though, are they? For instance: "Fleming discovered penicillin".
Using "discover" also has a sense of surprise or a degree of unexpectedness - since it means finding something for the first time. You may find that towel in your fridge any number of times if you don't remove it, but you'll only discover it once.
To be clear: I'm not trying to teach you your own native language. I know that dictionary definitions and real-life usage do not always match one-to-one, but the difference is abundantly clear in Swedish so it makes sense to keep them separated in English here as well, and it's from that perspective that I'm arguing. In a real-life scenario, I would have had no objections to a different translation here.
Thank you! I think I understand the distinction between "upptäcka" and "hitta." I have a better idea how you use those two words now.
To switch over to a comment on English....
We don't seem to have the same distinction between "discover" and "find."
To use your example of the towel in the fridge, we could say "discover" or "find" for the first time. After that, we would have to use something else like "see."
I agree with your other example, we do seem to use "discover" and "discovery" when talking about science. But we use "find" as well, and without any difference in meaning. For example:
We may have found a cure for this disease.
We may have discovered a cure for this disease.
I'm not sure that "discover" has more of an element of surprise than "find." Both words can have that element of surprise, and I think it has more to do with the rest of the sentence.
Maybe we just use "find" more often in general.
Thanks again for explaining the difference between "hitta" and "upptäcka." :D Very helpful!
Thanks for the explanation - it looks as though the distinction is the same in English and Swedish. We would use discover more usually in the context of science or crime. I think the example we have been given to translate is confusing without more context. It sounds a little stilted in English - we would more usually use found in this sentence unless we wanted to suggest that the towel had been deliberately concealed or as a previous person has commented used ironically to suggest that someone had accidentally hidden it