dis·​crete | \dis-ˈkrēt, ˈdis-ˌ\

Definition of discrete 

1 : constituting a separate entity : individually distinct several discrete sections

2a : consisting of distinct or unconnected elements : noncontinuous

b : taking on or having a finite or countably infinite number of values discrete probabilities a discrete random variable

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Other Words from discrete

discretely adverb
discreteness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for discrete

distinct, separate, discrete mean not being each and every one the same. distinct indicates that something is distinguished by the mind or eye as being apart or different from others. two distinct versions separate often stresses lack of connection or a difference in identity between two things. separate rooms discrete strongly emphasizes individuality and lack of connection. broke the job down into discrete stages

Examples of discrete in a Sentence

The idea is to disconnect the memory from the reactions to the memory, so that although the memory of the traumatic event remains, the everyday things that can trigger fear and panic, such as trash blowing across the interstate or a car backfiring … are restored to insignificance. The trauma thus becomes a discrete event, not a constant, self-replicating, encompassing condition. — Sue Halpern, New Yorker, 19 May 2008 Eliminating stress entirely is not an option. If there are discrete sources of stress in your life—a relationship, a job, a health problem—you can and should take action to try to mitigate them. But my experience is that we all are subject to a kind of conservation law of stress. If stress recedes in one area, it seems to increase in another. Time, 17 Oct. 2005 The newer, digital phones broadcast their communications in discrete bursts of energy, whereas analog devices employ continuous signals. — Janet Raloff, Science News, 12 Feb. 2000 several discrete sections to this vast medical complex, including a college of pharmacology and a research center
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Recent Examples on the Web

Two discrete bureaucracies would need to be merged into one. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "HQ2 is a perfect opportunity to massively upgrade the DC area’s commuter rail," 17 Nov. 2018 As the CPUs are being used in discrete graphics builds, the OEMs may have opted for the greater x16 PCIe lanes the Ryzen CPUs offer over the x8 lanes of a Ryzen APU. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "AMD's Ryzen 5 2500X and Ryzen 3 2300X target budget gamers, but they're not DIY," 10 Sep. 2018 The royal family's tradition of presenting a united—and discrete—public front means that bonds with certain in-laws can be strained or even broken. Marcia Moody, Town & Country, "The Tricky Relationship Between the Royal Family and Their In-laws," 29 July 2018 That land now features six discrete gardens created by the designer Hoichu Kurisu, whose credits include the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, Ill. New York Times, "6 Great Gardens to Visit in Florida," 16 Feb. 2018 Moving beyond photography, there is the poet Mark Strand’s wonderful little book on Edward Hopper (1994), in which each discrete unit of text focuses on a single painting. Geoff Dyer, New York Times, "The Magic of Books Where Photography Meets Essays," 18 Apr. 2018 The only thing to do, then, was to calculate the overall value of the railroad and divide it into discrete chunks. David Scharfenberg, BostonGlobe.com, "Trillions of dollars have sloshed into offshore tax havens. Here’s how to get it back," 20 Jan. 2018 The system is using a driver for a discrete Qualcomm Atheros Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "FCC filings give further credence to new $400 Surface reports," 3 July 2018 This new album feels in many ways like a response to that moment, as if Beyonce and Jay-Z wanted to prove that the two of them as a couple is as engaging — or more so — than each of them as a discrete unit. Jonny Coleman, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Notebook: Beyonce Makes Jay-Z Better on Surprise Couples-Therapy Album 'Everything Is Love'," 18 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'discrete.' 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 discrete

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for discrete

Middle English, from Latin discretus — see discreet

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Statistics for discrete

Last Updated

21 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for discrete

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

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More Definitions for discrete



English Language Learners Definition of discrete

: separate and different from each other


dis·​crete | \di-ˈskrēt \

Kids Definition of discrete

: separate entry 2 sense 3, distinct The report is divided into discrete sections.


dis·​crete | \dis-ˈkrēt, ˈdis-ˌ \

Medical Definition of discrete 

: characterized by distinct unconnected lesions discrete smallpox — compare confluent sense 2

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