View synonyms for discreet


[ dih-skreet ]


  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.

    Antonyms: indiscreet

  2. showing prudence and circumspection; decorous:

    a discreet silence.

  3. modestly unobtrusive; unostentatious:

    a discreet, finely wrought gold necklace.


/ dɪˈskriːt /


  1. careful to avoid social embarrassment or distress, esp by keeping confidences secret; tactful
  2. unobtrusive

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Derived Forms

  • disˈcreetly, adverb
  • disˈcreetness, noun

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Other Words From

  • dis·creet·ly adverb
  • dis·creet·ness noun
  • o·ver·dis·creet adjective
  • o·ver·dis·creet·ness noun
  • qua·si-dis·creet adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of discreet1

First recorded in 1325–75; Middle English discret, from Anglo-French, Old French, from Medieval Latin discrētus, Latin: “separated,” past participle of discernere “to separate,” from dis- dis- 1 + cernere “to decide, separate, sift”; discern

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Word History and Origins

Origin of discreet1

C14: from Old French discret, from Medieval Latin discrētus, from Latin discernere to discern

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Synonym Study

See careful.

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Example Sentences

The installation, accompanied by its own discreet soundtrack, retains the right angles of the space it defines, yet its hard lines are gently blurred with every ripple of air.

Having people who are trained to spot instances like when people are feeling presenteeism pressure and then be discreet and respectful about how they broach the subject is invaluable.

From Digiday

In private one-on-one meetings with senators, Barrett has been discreet on the question of precedent, at least according to one Senate Democrat who has spoken with her ahead of the confirmation hearing.

Plus the convenient and discreet wall-plug design saves space.

Her focus is on Australia, where she hopes to help undo a more “discreet” form of racism by mending an opaque education system with the help of the Opals.

From Ozy

His timing was cautious, and the bar was a discreet 50-foot walk from the hotel.

Welcome to The Angel, one of the pay-by-the-hour lodgings offering a discreet haven for trysts and visits with dominatrixes.

Though Billings was discreet about his sexual orientation, it was well known throughout Washington.

The duchess herself said her grandmother had been extremely discreet about what her job during the war entailed.

Step forward the men in white coats, those discreet cosmetic surgeons, the witch doctors of our age.

Of course they would stop for the wedding; but meantime she must be very discreet; she must not intrude too much.

"Oh, they were quite safe in my case, not being a mangeur de cœurs," replied the discreet young nobleman.

But a knock at the door interrupted them; the discreet Capt entered, bearing a telegram upon a salver.

As she walked along the chill promenade she looked with discreet curiosity at every woman she met, to see her condition.

Spunyarn, who was to accompany his friend, at a discreet distance was laughing and chatting merrily with the younger girl.


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Discreet Vs. Discrete

What’s the difference between discreet and discrete?

Discreet most commonly means tactful, prudent, or careful to avoid revealing things that may cause embarrassment, such as when communicating sensitive information, as in a discreet message or You can tell her, but be discreet about it. Discrete means separate or distinct, as in discrete concepts or discrete parts.

Less commonly, discreet can also mean unobtrusive—a modest necklace may be described as discreet. In all cases, the word discreet is used in situations in which an effort is made to avoid calling attention to someone or something. When you’re being discreet, you’re showing discretion.

Discrete, on the other hand, is typically used in technical, non-personal contexts. It has more specific meanings in the context of math and statistics.

Here’s a fun way to remember the difference: in discreet, the two e’s are right next to each other—the one e looks like it’s discreetly whispering something in the other’s ear. In discrete, the two e’s are kept separate by the t in the middle.

Here’s an example of discreet and discrete used correctly in a sentence.

Example: He mistakenly thought the two parts were discrete, but I told him that they are in fact connected—in a discreet way, of course.

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between discreet and discrete.

Quiz yourself on discreet vs. discrete!

Should discreet or discrete be used in the following sentence?

In my mind, these two topics are entirely _____—they don’t overlap at all.

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