View synonyms for discrete


[ dih-skreet ]


  1. apart or detached from others; separate; distinct:

    six discrete parts.

    Synonyms: unconnected, individual, different

  2. consisting of or characterized by distinct or individual parts; discontinuous.
  3. Mathematics.
    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.


/ dɪsˈkriːt /


  1. separate or distinct in form or concept
  2. consisting of distinct or separate parts
  3. statistics
    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 variable Compare continuous
“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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Derived Forms

  • disˈcreteness, noun
  • disˈcretely, adverb
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Other Words From

  • dis·cretely adverb
  • dis·creteness noun
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Word History and Origins

Origin of discrete1

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin discrētus separated; discreet
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Word History and Origins

Origin of discrete1

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

In 1990, Keresztély Corrádi and Sándor Szabó came up with just such a discrete object.

In other words, rather than looking at nematode worm genes, we have a discrete population of humans who’ve already won the genetic lottery when it comes to aging.

Backlinks should be included in a discrete and meaningful way.

Molecular biologists must pinpoint which genes out of many thousands interact as a discrete network to produce a given trait.

To break these tasks down into little discrete jobs that could be performed really without much skill or knowledge.

And it has become a system far more driven by the demands of branding and marketing than by recognizing clearly discrete locality.

At this point, the output becomes the digital, discrete signal.

It was carried out over a period of a little more than two years in four discrete, limited-time operations.

The Executive is elected in broad national elections in which discrete and insular minorities carry less weight.

I finished a novel, El héroe discrete, that will be published in September in Spanish.

The lesions in this disease are commonly discrete—separate one from another—but they may be crowded together.

It seems that we have above treated of quantity, and classified both discrete and continuous quantity38 among other "beings."

This then is the element common to number (the discrete quantity), and to continuous dimension.

Musical tones are discrete,—the voice passes from pitch to pitch through the intervals silently.

Even the nervous system, which appears to act as a co-ordinating centre, is itself an aggregate of discrete cells.


Related Words

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Discrete vs. Discreet

What’s the difference between discrete and discreet?

Discrete means separate or distinct, as in discrete concepts or discrete parts. 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.

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 discrete and discreet 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 discrete and discreet.

Quiz yourself on discrete vs. discreet!

Should discrete or discreet be used in the following sentence?

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




discrepantdiscrete variable