discreet

adjective
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

From there, packages and provisions would be carried up discreet steps to the mansion, through a humble side door and into the orderly, efficient kitchen. oregonlive, "Pittock Mansion is giving away VIP tickets to see ‘Downton Abbey’ movie," 4 Sep. 2019 However, using the Prayer Breakfast as a discreet Christian recruiting platform was perfected under longtime leader Doug Coe, who was considered one of the most powerful influencers in the Beltway before his death in 2017. NBC News, "Secretive Christian group at heart of D.C. politics ready for its close-up," 9 Aug. 2019 The best is not to be seen and to be extremely discreet. National Geographic, "Six years after Islamist militants were routed, Mali still struggles with violence," 13 June 2019 Juul, headquartered in San Francisco, designed an e-cigarette that is more accessible, discreet and easier to use than many older vaping products. Catherine Ho, SFChronicle.com, "‘Say no to Juul’: Pelosi slams SF vaping ballot measure," 22 Aug. 2019 His union wants police to have access to independent psychological services, not those run by the government, so that seeking help — now widely perceived as a failure — can be discreet. Washington Post, "French police suicide rate climbs, French govt is flummoxed," 18 Aug. 2019 Funeral directors tend to be unusually discreet, sensitive people — their livelihoods depend on it. Adapted from a recent online discussion. Carolyn Hax, The Mercury News, "Carolyn Hax: Our wedding guests want us to pay them because of this catering fail," 8 June 2019 From a verdant valley in the middle of Bhutan to the well-tread steps of Santorini, Greece, these 50 picks have it all: inimitable style, discreet, but sharp service, destination restaurant-worthy food, and more. Betsy Blumenthal, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Hotels in the World: 2018 Readers' Choice Awards," 9 Oct. 2018 Cheyenne had just left a mixer hosted at the Islamic Center at New York University, a discreet way to allow single Muslims to meet and potentially form relationships. Monica Haider, Teen Vogue, "How Young, American Muslims Are Dating and Finding Love in New York City," 30 July 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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Last Updated

9 Sep 2019

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

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More Definitions for discreet

discreet

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of discreet

: not likely to be seen or noticed by many people

discreet

adjective
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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More from Merriam-Webster on discreet

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with discreet

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for discreet

Spanish Central: Translation of discreet

Nglish: Translation of discreet for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of discreet for Arabic Speakers

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