The Difference Between “Discreet” and “Discrete”
discreet adj. Showing discernment or judgement in the guidance of one’s own speech and action; judicious, prudent, circumspect, cautious; often esp. that can be silent when speech would be inconvenient.
discrete adj. Separate, detached from others, individually distinct. Opposed to continuous.
Both discreet and discrete derive from the same Latin word discretus, “separated, distinct.” Old French discret meant “discreet, sensible, intelligent, wise.” In the 17th century, the spelling discreet became attached to the sense of “careful” or “prudent.” The spelling discrete, used in such disciplines as philosophy, medicine, and music, retained the original Latin meaning of “separated.”
Examples of the incorrect uses of discreet and discrete:
… but if this brief and discrete affair ever really happened it was never in the public eye…
I just arrived in Dubai and was wondering if anyone knows of a discrete internet cafe, ideally with private rooms…
I’ve always thought about breaking down ICs back to their discreet components
Examples of correct uses of discreet and discrete:
Sometimes people need to be discreet when it comes to the contacts in their iPhones.
Having a discreet affair isn’t easy.
…designed to help a nursing mother have a bit more privacy and to be able to nurse discreetly…
The Times claims these scores can validly peg the discrete effect of each teacher on their students’ growth.
A statistical distribution whose variables can take on only discrete values…
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