adjective dis·crete \ dis-ˈkrēt , ˈdis-ˌ \
|Updated on: 15 Aug 2018

Definition of discrete

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





Examples of discrete in a Sentence

  1. 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 HalpernNew Yorker19 May 2008
  2. 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. Time17 Oct. 2005
  3. The newer, digital phones broadcast their communications in discrete bursts of energy, whereas analog devices employ continuous signals. —Janet RaloffScience News12 Feb. 2000
  4. several discrete sections to this vast medical complex, including a college of pharmacology and a research center

Recent Examples of discrete from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of discrete

Middle English, from Latin discretus — see discreet

Synonym Discussion of 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

DISCRETE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of discrete for English Language Learners

  • : separate and different from each other

DISCRETE Defined for Kids


adjective dis·crete \ di-ˈskrēt \

Definition of discrete for Students

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

Headscratcher for discrete

There's a clue in the word discrete to keep you from confusing it with discreet. Discrete means “separate,” and to spell discrete you keep the E's separate.

Medical Dictionary


adjective dis·crete \ dis-ˈkrēt, ˈdis-ˌ \

medical Definition of discrete

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

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