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 Meanwhile, Pianon stayed away from the sea, well back in the bosky garden, made discreet evening visits to Noelline in her cinder-block house, and twice took her on weekend excursions to Mahajanga. Andrea Lee, The New Yorker, "The Rivals," 28 Dec. 2020 Inside, there are holders for business cards and an iPad or small laptop, while under the strap, there’s a discreet pen loop. New York Times, "The T List: Six Things We Recommend This Week," 17 Dec. 2020 Avedon and Evie eventually separated, after which Avedon led a discreet gay life. Scott Eyman, WSJ, "‘What Becomes a Legend Most’ Review: Avedon’s Vision," 11 Dec. 2020 Gay Pride Apparel packages arrive in discreet packaging. Kimi Robinson, The Arizona Republic, "'Acceptance and equality for all': How a Phoenix love story sparked an LGBTQ pride clothing brand," 7 Dec. 2020 After that person determined that the poll could be manipulated, $15,000 was spent to buy discreet I.P. addresses through which votes for Mr. Trump could be cast. Dan Barry, New York Times, "‘Loser’: How a Lifelong Fear Bookended Trump’s Presidency," 26 Nov. 2020 Her wide-legged corduroy pants and matching button-down, designed by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, were discreet, elegant, and the furthest thing from the ostentatious wardrobes currently favorited by reality stars past and present. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "This Week, The Best Dressed Stars Chose Fashion with Personality," 23 Nov. 2020 The ballot is returned in a discreet envelope that voters sign, agreeing to an oath. Nyamekye Daniel, Washington Examiner, "Brian Kemp calls for audit of Georgia's absentee ballot signatures," 23 Nov. 2020 Such cyber-operations have tended to be discreet affairs. The Economist, "Use the force Britain puts a new offensive cyber force at the heart of its defence," 1 Dec. 2020

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

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Discreet.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discreet. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for discreet


How to pronounce discreet (audio)

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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