dis·​creet | \ di-ˈskrēt How to pronounce discreet (audio) \

Definition of discreet

1 : having or showing discernment or good judgment in conduct and especially in speech : prudent especially : capable of preserving prudent silence
2 : unpretentious, modest the warmth and discreet elegance of a civilized home— Joseph Wechsberg
3 : unobtrusive, unnoticeable followed at a discreet distance

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Other Words from discreet

discreetly adverb
discreetness noun

Examples of discreet in a Sentence

For a couple who wanted a discreet bar between the study and the living room, Quogue, New York, architect Stuart Disston designed a small-scale bar that's hidden behind … doors under the stairs and takes advantage of plumbing in an adjacent powder room. — Sallie Brady, This Old House, January/February 2006 Without the knowledge of the exiled African National Congress leadership, he entered into a discreet dialogue with the South African government—which was reaching a similar conclusion. He later succeeded in convincing suspicious comrades of the need for a negotiated solution. — F. W. De Klerk, Time, 18 Apr. 2005 The New York Stock Exchange, meanwhile, has proposed a rule that would bar a stock-market analyst from talking to newspapers that fail to disclose the analyst's conflicts of interest. Even the C.E.O. of Goldman Sachs, one of Wall Street's most discreet firms, has chimed in … and has extorted his peers to restore "trust in our system." New Yorker, 9 Dec. 2002 Discreet disclaimers by the tourist board to the effect that "there is no evidence whatever that Prince Vlad Tepes (TSEH-pesh), or Vlad the Impaler, inhabited the castle" do nothing to discourage its notoriety as Dracula's reputed residence. Mythically, at least, this is in fact where he lived—and always will. — Erik Sandberg-Diment, New York Times, 21 June 1998 he was very discreet, only saying what was necessary with a discreet gesture, she signalled to her husband that she was ready to leave the party
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Recent Examples on the Web Sometimes spouses of Post staffers called looking for errant husbands or wives, but Rushetzky is discreet. Susan Mulcahy, The New Yorker, "A Tabloid Alum Blasts News to the New York Post Nation," 30 Dec. 2019 If Barr is trying to be discreet, Giuliani has been anything but. Simon Shuster/kiev, Time, "How Trump's Obsession With a Conspiracy Theory Led to the Impeachment Crisis," 3 Oct. 2019 Lee said the products are probably so popular with high school-aged kids because they were marketed as being discreet. Slade Rand, courant.com, "Fatal illnesses, Juul advertising controversies and a sharp rise in teen use are affecting the vaping business in Connecticut," 27 Sep. 2019 My dad, on the other hand, is so discreet about his finances. Marie Claire, "The $175,500 Couple Juggling School, a Baby, and Debt," 12 Dec. 2019 Femke Halsema, Amsterdam’s first female mayor, has also raised the possibility of covering the brothel windows with curtains, or moving the brothels out of the area altogether, and putting them in more discreet buildings in another neighborhood. Anna Russell, The New Yorker, "The Uncertain Fate of Amsterdam’s Red-Light District," 22 Oct. 2019 But a more discreet and far more accessible – and less pricey – Grand Dame gem polished and awaiting inspection is the U.S. Grant Hotel on the lip of the city’s downtown Gaslamp Quarter. Christopher Smith, Orange County Register, "Getting grand at San Diego’s U.S. Grant," 31 Oct. 2019 Life tends to happen in overlapping stages, not in discreet and separate incidents or episodes. Amy Dickinson, The Denver Post, "Ask Amy: Separated soulmates are eager to connect," 30 Oct. 2019 Today's hearing aids are discreet and barely recognizable – something anyone that struggles with hearing can appreciate. orlandosentinel.com, "2019 Orlando Sentinel Best Bets: Beauty & Wellness winners," 6 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'discreet.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of discreet

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for discreet

Middle English discrete, discret, discreet "morally discerning, prudent, separate, distinct," borrowed from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French discret, borrowed from Medieval Latin discrētus "separate, distinct, showing discernment, prudent," going back to Latin, "separated, differentiated," from past participle of discernere "to separate, distinguish" — more at discern

Note: See note at discrete.

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Time Traveler for discreet

Time Traveler

The first known use of discreet was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Discreet.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discreet. Accessed 27 January 2020.

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More Definitions for discreet


How to pronounce discreet (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of discreet

: not likely to be seen or noticed by many people


dis·​creet | \ dis-ˈkrēt How to pronounce discreet (audio) \

Kids Definition of discreet

: careful not to attract attention or let out private information “ … he must be discreet and say nothing about this visit of mine.”— Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee

Other Words from discreet

discreetly adverb

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Comments on discreet

What made you want to look up discreet? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that suddenly gains wealth or power

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