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

Darroch’s forthright, unfiltered views on the U.S. administration — meant for a limited audience and discreet review — appeared in leaked diplomatic documents that were published in Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper. Washington Post, "UK ambassador to US quits days after leaked cables on Trump," 11 July 2019 But first, diplomacy, by its nature, must be discreet to be effective. The Christian Science Monitor, "To frame the good or shame the corrupt? Africa’s choice.," 11 July 2019 Archie’s christening itself was an ultra-private affair, from the setting (the Queen’s private chapel) to the guest list (only around 25 attendees) to the discreet arrivals. Michelle Tauber, PEOPLE.com, "The Real Reason Why Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Are Keeping Archie’s Godparents Private," 10 July 2019 Darroch’s forthright, unfiltered views on the U.S. administration — meant for a limited audience and discreet review — appeared in leaked diplomatic documents that were published in Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper. chicagotribune.com, "Britain’s ambassador to the U.S. quits days after diplomatic cables criticizing President Trump were leaked," 10 July 2019 Whereas America gained many bases by fighting world wars, China must seek bases through discreet negotiations. The Economist, "China’s maritime expansion reflects a curious mix of ambition and paranoia," 4 July 2019 Others can find discreet areas to work, relax, or talk, but not all in one space. Marni Jameson, orlandosentinel.com, "Empty nesters build downsized dreamhouse," 28 June 2019 News of the arbitration prompted a less than discreet response from Pierre Alarie, Canada’s ambassador. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Mexico wants to review natural gas pipeline project involving Sempra Energy subsidiary," 28 June 2019 On a warm afternoon in May, Lisa Loww pulled into its discreet side lot and parked her car. Charles Bethea, The New Yorker, "What Pete Buttigieg Has and Hasn’t Done About Homelessness in South Bend," 24 June 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

15 Jul 2019

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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

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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