discretion

noun
dis·​cre·​tion | \ di-ˈskre-shən How to pronounce discretion (audio) \

Definition of discretion

1a : individual choice or judgment left the decision to his discretion
b : power of free decision or latitude of choice within certain legal bounds reached the age of discretion
2 : the quality of having or showing discernment or good judgment : the quality of being discreet : circumspection especially : cautious reserve in speech
3 : ability to make responsible decisions
4 : the result of separating or distinguishing

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for discretion

Synonyms

common sense, discreetness, gumption [chiefly dialect], horse sense, levelheadedness, nous [chiefly British], policy, prudence, sense, sensibleness, wisdom, wit

Antonyms

imprudence, indiscretion

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of discretion in a Sentence

Though it is worth noting that to live in a place where other people come just for pleasure has the odd effect of making me feel transient, while the visitors seem more fixed and permanent in their lives, coming as they do from more conventional homes far away. It is as if I am always waiting for them and am here at their discretion. — Richard Ford, Wall Street Journal, 14-15 June 2008 In Texas "capital" murder doesn't necessarily mean a death-penalty case; it's the designation for any aggravated murder, and prosecutors have full discretion in deciding whether to seek death in such cases. — John Cloud, Time, 14 July 2003 Del Monte was a courtier, bureaucrat, diplomat and politician born and bred and he understood the need for discretion. — Peter Robb, The Man Who Became Caravaggio, (1998) 1999 Each artist in the gallery has discretion over the price that will be charged for his or her work. The coach used his own discretion to let the injured quarterback play. He always uses care and discretion when dealing with others. She handled the awkward situation with great discretion.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Disney workers also have the discretion to hand out readmission passes to visitors with disabilities, allowing them to get back on a ride immediately. Fox News, "30 lawsuits against Disney Resorts from autistic visitors move forward," 2 Oct. 2018 Patrons can make the call on certain design changes, to a point, per the artists’ discretion. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "Throwing your skin into the wind: Houston tattoo shop plays with fate and a tattoo dartboard," 3 July 2018 Screening supervisors at airports have the discretion to decide whether, and when, to demand passengers proffer up their pretzel packs for a solo trip through the X-ray machine. Martine Powers, Anchorage Daily News, "TSA screeners nibbling away at travelers' patience. This time over snacks.," 2 July 2018 The discretion to find someone the showrunner or music supervisor is comfortable with can be seen in male composers who get hired for multiple projects. refinery29.com, "Record Scratch: Only 6% Of Your Favorite Shows Use Music Composed By Women," 1 July 2018 The commissioner has the discretion to place any player accused of domestic violence on paid leave while the allegations are investigated. Scooby Axson, SI.com, "Blue Jays' Roberto Osuna Arrested, Charged With Domestic Assault," 8 May 2018 Gennette wants stores to have the discretion to increase the size of an area doing well, or conversely shift away from categories that aren’t. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Macy's Has a New Plan for Growth — Making Its Stores Nicer," 27 Feb. 2018 Rosenberg's other lawyer, Jennifer Morales, added that how the money is spent would have remained the sole discretion of the park board. Carrie Blackmore Smith, Cincinnati.com, "Lawyer: Mayor John Cranley said he would ‘destroy’ Park Board chair in the media," 17 Jan. 2018 While top-tier agencies have dedicated staff for such an eventuality, their practice is left to the discretion of management companies. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "In Europe, the Model Age Debate Rages On," 12 Apr. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'discretion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of discretion

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for discretion

Middle English discrecioun "rational perception, moral discernment, good judgment," borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French discreciun, descrecion, borrowed from Late Latin discrētiōn-, discrētiō "separation, act or power of distinguishing, caution, prudence," going back to Latin, "division, discrimination," from discrē-, variant stem of discernere "to separate, distinguish" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at discern

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about discretion

Statistics for discretion

Last Updated

10 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for discretion

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for discretion

discretion

noun

English Language Learners Definition of discretion

: the right to choose what should be done in a particular situation
: the quality of being careful about what you do and say so that people will not be embarrassed or offended : the quality of being discreet

discretion

noun
dis·​cre·​tion | \ di-ˈskre-shən How to pronounce discretion (audio) \

Kids Definition of discretion

1 : care in not attracting attention or letting out private information Use discretion in dealing with the situation.
2 : the power to decide what to do I'll leave it to your discretion.

discretion

noun
dis·​cre·​tion | \ dis-ˈkre-shən How to pronounce discretion (audio) \

Legal Definition of discretion

: power of free decision or latitude of choice within certain bounds imposed by law reached the age of discretion struck down death penalty provisions administered through unbridled jury discretion— L. H. Tribe : as
a : the power of a judge to use his or her own judgment in making decisions guided by what is fair and equitable and by principles of law — see also abuse of discretion
b : the power of a public official or employee to act and make decisions based on his or her own judgment or conscience within the bounds of reason and the law

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on discretion

What made you want to look up discretion? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a strong desire or propensity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!