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discreet

[dih-skreet] /dɪˈskrit/
adjective
1.
judicious in one's conduct or speech, especially with regard to respecting privacy or maintaining silence about something of a delicate nature; prudent; circumspect.
2.
showing prudence and circumspection; decorous:
a discreet silence.
3.
modestly unobtrusive; unostentatious:
a discreet, finely wrought gold necklace.
Origin
1325-1375
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.
Synonyms
1. See careful.
Antonyms
1. indiscreet.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for quasidiscreet

discreet

/dɪˈskriːt/
adjective
1.
careful to avoid social embarrassment or distress, esp by keeping confidences secret; tactful
2.
unobtrusive
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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for quasidiscreet

discreet

adj.

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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