noun dis·cre·tion \ dis-ˈkre-shən \

Definition of discretion

1 :the quality of having or showing discernment or good judgment :the quality of being discreet :circumspection; especially :cautious reserve in speech
2 :ability to make responsible decisions
3 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
4 :the result of separating or distinguishing

Examples of discretion in a Sentence

  1. 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 FordWall Street Journal14-15 June 2008
  2. 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 CloudTime14 July 2003
  3. Del Monte was a courtier, bureaucrat, diplomat and politician born and bred and he understood the need for discretion. —Peter RobbThe Man Who Became Caravaggio(1998) 1999
  4. Each artist in the gallery has discretion over the price that will be charged for his or her work.

  5. The coach used his own discretion to let the injured quarterback play.

  6. He always uses care and discretion when dealing with others.

  7. She handled the awkward situation with great discretion.

Recent Examples of discretion from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of discretion

DISCRETION Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of discretion for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids


noun dis·cre·tion \ di-ˈskre-shən \

Definition of discretion for Students

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.

Law Dictionary


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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to suppress quietly or indirectly

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