apart or detached from others; separate; distinct: six discrete parts.
consisting of or characterized by distinct or individual parts; discontinuous.
  1. (of a topology or topological space) having the property that every subset is an open set.
  2. defined only for an isolated set of points: a discrete variable.
  3. using only arithmetic and algebra; not involving calculus: discrete methods.

Origin of discrete

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin discrētus separated; see discreet
Related formsdis·crete·ly, adverbdis·crete·ness, noun
Can be confuseddiscreet discrete

Synonyms for discrete

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for discrete

Contemporary Examples of discrete

Historical Examples of discrete

  • Moreover, it is a discrete quantity for its parts have no common boundary.

  • It replaces the world of the continuum by a world of discrete states.

  • As to number (which is discrete quantity), it is something posterior.

  • The manor of the eastern counties is a discrete, a dissipated thing.

    Domesday Book and Beyond

    Frederic William Maitland

  • What discrete succession of images did Stephen meanwhile perceive?


    James Joyce

British Dictionary definitions for discrete



separate or distinct in form or concept
consisting of distinct or separate parts
  1. (of a variable) having consecutive values that are not infinitesimally close, so that its analysis requires summation rather than integration
  2. (of a distribution) relating to a discrete variableCompare continuous (def. 4)
Derived Formsdiscretely, adverbdiscreteness, noun

Word Origin for discrete

C14: from Latin discrētus separated, set apart; see discreet


Avoid confusion with discreet
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

Word Origin and History for discrete

late 14c., see discreet. Related: Discretely.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

discrete in Medicine




Not joined to or incorporated with another; separate; distinct.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.