discretion

noun
dis·​cre·​tion | \ dis-ˈkre-shən \

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

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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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The state board has broad discretion under state law to call a new election if the basic fairness of the November vote is in doubt. Dylan Scott, Vox, "More evidence piles up in North Carolina election fraud scandal," 26 Dec. 2018 Sponsor shall not be required to use or publish any Entry, in its sole discretion. WSJ, "Win This Custom Levi’s Jacket!," 14 Sep. 2018 Sponsor, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to disqualify and/or exclude any individual or entry from the Promotion for any reason or no reason at all. CNN, "OFFICIAL RULES AND REGULATIONS," 12 June 2018 Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any voter, Ballot, and/or vote at any time that in its opinion does not comply with these Official Rules. Howard County Times, "Official rules: Howard Magazine Best Restaurants readers' poll 2018," 5 June 2018 The criminal justice bill would reduce mandatory sentences for certain drug crimes and give judges more discretion to make the punishment fit the crime. Kevin Freking, The Seattle Times, "Senators say they’ve met threshold for criminal justice vote," 4 Dec. 2018 The high court held the Minnesota law gave too much discretion to the interpretation of a polling worker or election judge. Fox News, "Supreme Court decisions could curb campus censorship," 24 Aug. 2018 Mecca, which began citrus farming in Florida more than three decades ago, is challenging a different part of the rule that deals with the scoring of the applications, which Burhans said gives too much discretion to evaluators. Dara Kam, Sun-Sentinel.com, "'Citrus preference' spurs medical marijuana license dispute," 3 July 2018 The agreement also gave the trustee the discretion to extend that deadline. David Anderson, The Aegis, "Harford to end ownership of arts center site," 15 June 2018

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.

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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

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Last Updated

18 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for discretion

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

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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 \

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 \

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

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