dis·​crete | \ di-ˈskrēt How to pronounce discrete (audio) , 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 His high school teachers encouraged him to take higher level courses, including calculus, chemistry, differential equations and discrete mathematics. Allana Haynes, baltimoresun.com, 8 June 2021 Deborah, like Freud, believes in jokes as discrete architectural objects, daggers that poke at the collective subconscious. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, 7 June 2021 The onboard Radeon graphics will no doubt appeal to IT managers who need systems without discrete graphics cards as well. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, 1 June 2021 Their tool involves optogenetics, a technique that uses a tiny LED light, implanted into an animal’s brain, to activate discrete groups of neurons. New York Times, 25 May 2021 Ransomware as a service, like the modern tech economy as a whole, has evolved to account for a high degree of specialization, with each participant in the marketplace providing discrete skills. Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, 23 May 2021 Here cameras function as discrete devices, swiveling to pick up and highlight who’s speaking. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, 21 May 2021 Since your feed is made up of discrete posts personalized for you by an algorithm, blocking one person’s in particular can be a simple, unobtrusive action. Will Oremus, The Atlantic, 12 May 2021 In one participant, simultaneous stimulation of five electrodes, each one associated with one discrete phosphene, triggered the illumination of two large phosphenes that did not coalesce into a letter or any other coherent form. Christof Koch, Scientific American, 10 May 2021

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 discrete, discret, discreet — more at discreet

Note: The adjective discrete is etymologically identical with discreet, of which it was originally a simple spelling variant. The consistent discrimination of the two senses by spelling, with discrete corresponding more closely to classical Latin in both form and meaning, dates from the 18th century.

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Learn More About discrete

Time Traveler for discrete

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for discrete

Last Updated

12 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Discrete.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discrete. Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for discrete



English Language Learners Definition of discrete

formal : separate and different from each other


dis·​crete | \ di-ˈskrēt How to pronounce discrete (audio) \

Kids Definition of discrete

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


dis·​crete | \ dis-ˈkrēt, ˈdis-ˌ How to pronounce discrete (audio) \

Medical Definition of discrete

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


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