9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[dih-skreet] /dɪˈskrit/
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
1325-75; Middle English discret < Anglo-French, Old French < Medieval Latin discrētus, Latin: separated (past participle of discernere; see discern), equivalent to dis- dis-1 + crē- separate, distinguish (variant stem of cernere) + -tus past participle suffix
Related forms
discreetly, adverb
discreetness, noun
overdiscreet, adjective
overdiscreetly, adverb
overdiscreetness, noun
quasi-discreet, adjective
quasi-discreetly, adverb
Can be confused
discreet, discrete.
1. See careful.
1. indiscreet. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for discreet
  • Then ask as many trustworthy and discreet people as you can to come up with appropriate ways to respond.
  • The shirt fit nicely and had a discreet pocket for a key or driver's license.
  • Of course, text messages are also more discreet than a phone call.
  • The discreet rise of vegetarianism in the carnivorous capital of the world.
  • But some types of sponsorship are more discreet than others.
  • About 13 miles into the hills, a very discreet turnoff leads to an iron gate that guards the road to Stonepine.
  • In an attempt to shield children from ridicule, schools sometimes are too discreet about outbreaks, she says.
  • Her frosted coif, discreet eye makeup, pink lipstick and French manicure are as perfect as her posture.
  • Plainclothes police mingled among the demonstrators in Rabat, though police were generally discreet.
  • Watch carefully for discreet eye-rolling at faculty meetings or get-togethers.
British Dictionary definitions for discreet


careful to avoid social embarrassment or distress, esp by keeping confidences secret; tactful
Derived Forms
discreetly, adverb
discreetness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French discret, from Medieval Latin discrētus, from Latin discernere to discern
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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