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 The Active Pro is an incredibly advanced hearing aid with advanced Dynamic Sound Processing in a form that’s both stylish, discreet and more akin to a pair of true wireless earphones. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, "Signia Reveals Hearing Aids With Wireless Earbud Technology And Artificial Intelligence," 21 Apr. 2021 Is there a discreet way to end this business/client relationship without screwing up my friendship with my high school pal? Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, "Dear Abby: Stylist wants bad client out of her hair, but she’s a close friend of a friend," 17 Apr. 2021 The firm’s discreet efforts to soften aspects of the bill before its passage backfired twice over. The Economist, "CEO activism in America is risky business," 14 Apr. 2021 This management tray with a lid can hide away USBs, surge protectors, power strips, TV and video game console games, adapters, and more discreet cables. Chris Hachey, BGR, "Best Cable Management Box," 8 Apr. 2021 Whatever the cause may be, a quality set of disposable bedwetting underwear provides discreet but effective protection against urine leakage, stains and odor. Michael Pollick, chicagotribune.com, "The best bedwetting underwear," 2 Mar. 2021 The villagers in Mongibello, as Highsmith portrays them, are agreeable but discreet, keeping just the right distance from their foreign visitors. New York Times, "The Talented Mr. Ripley," 24 Mar. 2021 In Poland, Krystyna Paszko, a high school student, won a prize this year from the European Union for setting up a fake cosmetic website which allows women to report domestic abuse in a discreet way. Guy Davies, ABC News, "'Shadow Pandemic': Domestic abuse reports soar during Europe's coronavirus crisis," 20 Mar. 2021 Meghan was both forthcoming and discreet — no names were named, but circumstances were described and palace aides do not come out of this looking well. Chicago Tribune Staff, chicagotribune.com, "Daywatch: United center limits vaccinations to Chicagoans, some CPS teachers face unpaid leave and plan your butterfly garden," 8 Mar. 2021

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

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Discreet.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discreet. Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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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 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

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