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discreet

[dih-skreet] /dɪˈskrit/
adjective
1.
judicious in one's conduct or speech, especially with regard to respecting privacy or maintaining silence about something of a delicate nature; prudent; circumspect.
2.
showing prudence and circumspection; decorous:
a discreet silence.
3.
modestly unobtrusive; unostentatious:
a discreet, finely wrought gold necklace.
Origin of discreet
1325-1375
1325-75; Middle English discret < Anglo-French, Old French < Medieval Latin discrētus, Latin: separated (past participle of discernere; see discern), equivalent to dis- dis-1 + crē- separate, distinguish (variant stem of cernere) + -tus past participle suffix
Related forms
discreetly, adverb
discreetness, noun
overdiscreet, adjective
overdiscreetly, adverb
overdiscreetness, noun
quasi-discreet, adjective
quasi-discreetly, adverb
Can be confused
discreet, discrete.
Antonyms
1. indiscreet.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for discreet
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A kiss on the mouth must of itself be discreet when bestowed on youth by such venerable years as are yours.

    The Dark Star Robert W. Chambers
  • I could wish that I were with you, that you might become moderate and discreet in your grief.

  • And the discreet Janet, comprehending Hilda, had not even mentioned this fact to the rest of the family.

    Hilda Lessways Arnold Bennett
  • The door, contrary to Tait's discreet, usual habit, had been left open.

    The Dop Doctor Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
  • The officers of the law were too discreet to permit that to be done.

    The Lost Lady of Lone E.D.E.N. Southworth
British Dictionary definitions for discreet

discreet

/dɪˈskriːt/
adjective
1.
careful to avoid social embarrassment or distress, esp by keeping confidences secret; tactful
2.
unobtrusive
Derived Forms
discreetly, adverb
discreetness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French discret, from Medieval Latin discrētus, from Latin discernere to discern
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for discreet
adj.

mid-14c., "morally discerning, prudent, circumspect," from Old French discret "discreet, sensible, intelligent, wise," from Latin discretus "separated, distinct," in Medieval Latin "discerning, careful," past participle of discernere "distinguish" (see discern). Meaning "separate, distinct" in English is late 14c.

Spellings discrete and nativized discreet co-existed until after c.1600, when discreet became the common word for "careful, prudent," and discrete was maintained in philosophy, medicine, music and other disciplines that remembered Latin and made effort to obey it. Related: Discreetly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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