adjective dis·creet \ di-ˈskrēt \
|Updated on: 12 Aug 2018

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





Examples of discreet in a Sentence

  1. 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 BradyThis Old HouseJanuary/February 2006
  2. 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 KlerkTime18 Apr. 2005
  3. 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 Yorker9 Dec. 2002
  4. 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-DimentNew York Times21 June 1998
  5. he was very discreet, only saying what was necessary

  6. with a discreet gesture, she signalled to her husband that she was ready to leave the party

Recent Examples of discreet from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of discreet

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

DISCREET Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of discreet for English Language Learners

  • : not likely to be seen or noticed by many people

DISCREET Defined for Kids


adjective dis·creet \ dis-ˈkrēt \

Definition of discreet for Students

: 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



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