Discreet vs. Discrete

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Discreet and discrete is a confusing pair of homophones that sound the same but have different meanings. For a lot of English learners and even native speakers, English homophones are not less than trouble. If you also get confused when to use discreet vs. discrete, read this article to know the difference between the two. We will also give you a tip to remember the difference. So without further delay, let’s get started. 

When to Use “Discreet”

The word discreet is an adjective that means “prudent in one’s speech or action, particularly to avoid embarrassment or keep something confidential.” According to Collins dictionary, if you’re discreet, you’re careful and polite in what you say or do because you don’t want to offend someone or avoid embarrassment

Let’s see some examples of discreet in sentences for more clarification. 

Examples 

  • She made a discreet investigation about his background.
  • They are very discreet in giving their opinions. 
  • Emma stood back at a discreet distance.
  • She assured me that she would be discreet.
  • She took her hand with discreet gentility.
  • She was always very discreet about her love affairs. 
  • Rosy has been discreet about her upbringing. 
  •  You should make a few discreet investigations before you sign anything. 
  • John made a discreet calming gesture with a hand.
  • Texting is more discreet than talking because what you text can’t be overheard.
  • The writers stayed at a discreet location in the hills.
  • In hopes of being discreet, most celebrities wear sunglasses when going out in public. 
  • If I told you his secret, I would not be a very discreet person.

 

When to Use “Discrete”

The word discrete is also an adjective, but it means unconnected, distinct, or detached from others. Collins dictionary defines it as things or ideas that are distinct or not attached to others. 

Examples 

  • White and brown rice are two discrete varieties.
  • While both lemons and limes are citrus, they are two discrete fruits.
  • Each snowflake has a discrete look. 
  • Each service has a discrete feature. 
  • The painting consists of a lot of discrete spots of color.
  • These small organizations now have their own discrete identity. 
  • She is an extension of his nuclear family but also a discrete entity. 
  • The pizza has eight discrete slices. 
  • The hard disk is a discrete part of the CPU.
  • The SEALS are a discrete group of the US Navy. 
  • This watch is made up of several discrete gears.
  • They are brothers but very discrete.
  • To avoid confusion, keep them discrete.

 

How to Remember the Difference Between Discreet and Discrete

Discrete means “separate,” while discreet means “inconspicuous.” Both words share the same etymology from the Latin phrase discretus that means “to keep separate.” One easy way to tell them apart is to remember that in the word discrete, the “t” separates two “e’. Therefore, discrete means separate. Thus, you can easily recognize that when you mean “unobtrusive,” you need to use “discreet” not “discrete.”


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