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What is the difference between discreet and discrete?

This is another pair of homophones (words that sound alike but are different in spelling or meaning or both) that can be very confusing. Discreet implies the showing of reserve and prudence in one's behavior or speech. Discrete means something quite different - 'distinct, separate, unrelated'. Both words derive from the same Latin word discretus and for a long time these words were each spelled two different ways, but eventually came to be differentiated in spelling as well as in meaning. Discreet has yielded the noun discretion, but discrete's noun form is discreteness. Examples: They tried to be discreet about their unapproved friendship. / The course is broken down into 10 discrete study units.

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