dis·creet | \ di-ˈskrēt \

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

One reason: Too many government officials come calling, and their visits need to be discreet. Alyssa Abkowitz, WSJ, "For China, Tech Giant Tencent Is Both a National Champion and a Threat," 9 July 2018 Wow, nice to see Oleg literally anywhere besides a bench in a discreet nighttime location, a dark alleyway, or a drab government building. The Cut, "Oleg From The Americans Is … Totally Kind of Hot?," 16 May 2018 Whiteman pointed out that the edibles market provides a more discreet way to catch a buzz without the attention of patrolling police. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "What Michigan needs to learn from Colorado's legalized marijuana," 12 July 2018 But Justice Kennedy is a very prudent and discreet man. Fox News, "Leonard Leo on replacement options for Justice Kennedy," 28 June 2018 If a private informant was enlisted to feel out the Russian connections of a couple of Trump nonentities, this was at least a sensitive and discreet approach to a legitimate question when so many FBI actions were neither. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Clapper Disinformation Campaign," 29 May 2018 Metro K9 Drug Detection Services provide a confidential and discreet drug detection service for your home. Saryn Chorney, PEOPLE.com, "For $200, Kansas City Parents Can Rent a Drug Sniffing Dog to Raid Their Teen's Bedroom," 23 May 2018 There’s the classic large size that would look at home on Boy Meets World’s Topanga Lawrence, and a skinnier, more discreet size. Shannon Barbour, The Cut, "Silk Scrunchies Are Here," 13 Mar. 2018 So producer Aaron Spelling’s widow hired California’s oldest — and perhaps most discreet — moving company. Ronald D. White, latimes.com, "From Sinatra to the Spellings, California's oldest moving company has thrived by remaining discreet," 8 July 2018

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, from Anglo-French discret, from Medieval Latin discretus, from Latin, past participle of discernere to separate, distinguish between — more at discern

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Statistics for discreet

Last Updated

12 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for discreet

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

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More Definitions for discreet



English Language Learners Definition of discreet

: not likely to be seen or noticed by many people


dis·creet | \ dis-ˈkrēt \

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).


alleviating pain or harshness

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