discretion

noun

dis·​cre·​tion di-ˈskre-shən How to pronounce discretion (audio)
1
a
: 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

Example Sentences

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 But the policy also says administrators can exercise their own discretion in assessing discipline on a case-by-case basis. James Vaznis, BostonGlobe.com, 7 Nov. 2022 As a result, vaccine providers will have to use their own discretion in administering boosters. Nathan Ruiz, Baltimore Sun, 22 July 2022 Supporters of the bill say that the previous law has long discriminated against transgender people and people of color as law enforcement is allowed to use their own discretion in what constitutes loitering. Taylor Romine, CNN, 2 July 2022 Any inappropriate behavior, as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion, may result in removal from any activity or event. Outside Online, 3 June 2022 That led officers to use their own discretion on how and what type of information to obtain and keep, the audit found. oregonlive, 6 Apr. 2022 Click here to see the tweet at your own discretion. Dan Carson, Chron, 10 Feb. 2022 All prize details will be determined by Sponsors in their sole discretion and will be final and binding on all entrants into the Sweepstakes. Rolling Stone, 4 Feb. 2022 All matters relating to the interpretation and application of these Sweepstakes Rules shall be decided by Sponsor in its sole discretion. PCMAG, 18 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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

Dictionary Entries Near discretion

Cite this Entry

“Discretion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discretion. Accessed 27 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

discretion

noun

dis·​cre·​tion dis-ˈkresh-ən How to pronounce discretion (audio)
1
: the quality of being discreet : prudence
2
a
: individual choice or judgment
left the decision to your discretion
b
: power of free decision
reached the age of discretion
discretionary
-ˈkresh-ə-ˌner-ē
adjective

Legal Definition

discretion

noun

dis·​cre·​tion dis-ˈkre-shən How to pronounce discretion (audio)
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on discretion

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