- judicious in one's conduct or speech, especially with regard to respecting privacy or maintaining silence about something of a delicate nature; prudent; circumspect.
- showing prudence and circumspection; decorous: a discreet silence.
- modestly unobtrusive; unostentatious: a discreet, finely wrought gold necklace.
Origin of discreet
Related Wordsnoncommittal, watchful, prudent, tactful, considerate, thoughtful, reasonable, attentive, careful, intelligent, restrained, alert, awake, cagey, calculating, chary, circumspect, civil, conservative, diplomatic
Examples from the Web for discreet
His timing was cautious, and the bar was a discreet 50-foot walk from the hotel.Was U.S. Journalist Steven Sotloff a Marked Man?
September 2, 2014
Welcome to The Angel, one of the pay-by-the-hour lodgings offering a discreet haven for trysts and visits with dominatrixes.Inside Japan's 30,000 Kinky ‘Love Hotels’
August 4, 2014
Though Billings was discreet about his sexual orientation, it was well known throughout Washington.Gay Men and the Presidents Who Loved Them
June 24, 2014
The sex scene between April and Mr. B. is a montage of discreet close-ups.The Next Great Coppola
May 7, 2014
Outside, there is a big black door with a discreet sign that reads, simply, “Franks.”The Secret Speakeasies of Buenos Aires
February 25, 2014
I can see that they are very wise and discreet folk at Beaulieu.The White Company
Arthur Conan Doyle
But what will they say of Virgil; the wise, the discreet Virgil?An Essay on Satire, Particularly on the Dunciad
One and all swore to be faithful and discreet—and so they proved.
Indeed, you shall tell me all about it someday; you know I'm discreet!
Colonel Hofferman paused: de Loubersac kept a discreet silence.A Nest of Spies
- careful to avoid social embarrassment or distress, esp by keeping confidences secret; tactful
Word Origin and History for discreet
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.