discreet

adjective

dis·​creet di-ˈskrēt How to pronounce discreet (audio)
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 homeJoseph Wechsberg
3
: unobtrusive, unnoticeable
followed at a discreet distance
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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web Elsewhere, discreet and attentive staff tend to guests’ every whim, while guests flit between the Guerlain Spa, The Plaza Hotel Fitness Center, and The Plaza Boutique—a homage to its Fifth Avenue location. Robb Report Studio, Robb Report, 12 Feb. 2024 Quiet luxury is a way of incorporating timeless, luxe items that are on the discreet side. Claire Rutter, Rolling Stone, 12 Feb. 2024 For most of his life in the United States, Pedro Manzanares, 53, had lived a discreet life in Chicago’s Little Village, one of the city’s vibrant Mexican immigrant neighborhoods. Laura Rodríguez Presa, Chicago Tribune, 29 Jan. 2024 Smart rings are more discreet and much better suited to sleep tracking than smartwatches. Victoria Song, The Verge, 19 Jan. 2024 Drone Not Drones is designed in a way that makes the show a singular event rather than a series of discreet performances like most concerts. Dustin Nelson, SPIN, 1 Feb. 2024 With its sustainable ethos, inclusive nature, and discreet designs, Obayaty is primed to help a wide swath of guys discover new ways to enhance their looks. Benedict Browne, Robb Report, 1 Feb. 2024 The Woman King’s Sheila Atim took a page off of the Jean Paul Gaultier runway, with a discreet window peak (which Zendaya’s hairdo leaned towards). India Espy-Jones, Essence, 26 Jan. 2024 In the call, placed on Jan. 1 and obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, a federal employee working for Austin asks the operator for the ambulance to be discreet. Beatrice Peterson, ABC News, 16 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'discreet.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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.

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near discreet

Cite this Entry

“Discreet.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discreet. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

discreet

adjective
dis·​creet dis-ˈkrēt How to pronounce discreet (audio)
: having or showing good judgment especially in conduct or speech
discreetly adverb
discreetness noun

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