the power or right to decide or act according to one's own judgment; freedom of judgment or choice: It is entirely within my discretion whether I will go or stay.
the quality of being discreet, especially with reference to one's own actions or speech; prudence or decorum: Throwing all discretion to the winds, he blurted out the truth.
at discretion, at one's option or pleasure: They were allowed to work overtime at discretion.

1250–1300; Middle English discrecioun < Anglo-French < Late Latin discrētiōn- (stem of discrētiō). See discreet, -ion

2. judgment, wisdom, discrimination, sense.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
discretion (dɪˈskrɛʃən)
1.  the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid social embarrassment or distress
2.  freedom or authority to make judgments and to act as one sees fit (esp in the phrases at one's own discretion, at the discretion of)
3.  age of discretion, years of discretion the age at which a person is considered to be able to manage his own affairs

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, from L.L. discretionem (nom. discretio) "discernment, power to make distinctions," from L. discretionem "separation, distinction," from discre- stem of discernere "to separate, distinguish" (see discern). Phrase at (one's) discretion attested from 1570s; the age
of discretion (late 14c.) in English law was 14.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with discretion, also see throw caution (discretion) to the winds.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
The old conundrums around discretion seemed technologically obsolete.
Instead, you have been trusted to use your discretion.
The preference for rules over discretion is based on three main observations.
Other projects and responsibilities may be added at the company's discretion.
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