Definition of discreet in English:

discreet

adjective

  • 1Careful and prudent in one's speech or actions, especially in order to keep something confidential or to avoid embarrassment.

    ‘we made some discreet inquiries’
    • ‘He was a delightful man but he had a very discreet nature.’
    • ‘Autobiographies are often curiously discreet about the awful transition.’
    • ‘He stressed his team were discreet in their inquiries and that any innocent party could be easily eliminated from the hunt.’
    • ‘When she noticed me, she gave me a discreet wink and continued with her speech.’
    • ‘Do they fear physical harm or do they fear being forced to be discreet so as to avoid physical harm?’
    • ‘A lot of their work is carried out in a very discreet and confidential manner.’
    • ‘He had been careful to maintain a discreet distance between the architects of the plan and the hired help.’
    • ‘Clearly he considered this work to be creative and, while he is often bold in his alterations, he can also be discreet and delicate.’
    • ‘I wish I were a discreet sort of person in whom others could confide.’
    • ‘In Britain, we'd see that as just being discreet, not making a fuss, not imposing yourself arrogantly on other people.’
    • ‘Please note that it is important from the outset that you should be discreet about your interest in joining the Service.’
    • ‘The agent was one of the most tactful and discreet people that I have ever met in my life.’
    • ‘He tries to be more discreet about his own political leanings.’
    • ‘Probably to avoid arousing the ire of his notoriously touchy band mates, he becomes more discreet and less gossipy as time goes by.’
    • ‘It is possible to be discreet, and a lot of famous people are.’
    • ‘After his daughter's birth, the president confided, several friends had advised him to seek a discreet divorce.’
    • ‘The purpose of the bullying audit was explained and their participation in a confidential and discreet interview was invited.’
    • ‘She is diplomatically discreet about the pitfalls for foreign firms in the country.’
    • ‘Their bodyguards followed them around the place at discreet distances.’
    • ‘They apply their mind and are trained to be discreet enough to prevent people from knowing that they are being watched.’
    careful, circumspect, cautious, wary, chary, guarded, close-lipped, close-mouthed
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Intentionally unobtrusive.
      ‘a discreet cough’
      • ‘For the cross examination she is dressed in a sober black dress and discreet gold chain as befits a senior law officer.’
      • ‘It is large, bound in luxurious leather, with discreet gold lettering announcing its pedigree.’
      • ‘There is a discreet knock on the door of the mayoral chamber.’
      • ‘Wearing a smart green dress and discreet golden earrings, she seemed every inch the sophisticated operator.’
      • ‘But, immaculately dressed in a dark-grey trouser suit, the effect is discreet.’
      • ‘He said they might still be able to wear discreet turbans to school but did not mention their facial hair.’
      • ‘As you would expect from a Roux protégé, his sauces are intensely delicious but discreet and not over-rich.’
      • ‘A discreet cough alerted him to the couple's readiness to leave.’
      • ‘He jumps in his chair at a discreet cough immediately beside him.’
      • ‘Specially tuned cars usually boast a discreet logo.’
      • ‘Steel toe-cap boots can prove to be an excellent equaliser - smart-looking and discreet is best.’
      • ‘She's looking good in black suit, styled hair and discreet (but still obvious) makeup.’
      • ‘Their discreet designer labels send out waves of attitude like bullets, but secretly they delight in the attention.’
      • ‘The colours and discreet lighting of the restaurant blend and lend superbly to the informal atmosphere and freshest food.’
      • ‘I talked to him last week in the understated luxury of the discreet Residence.’
      • ‘And here is an orchestration of imagery that is as powerful as it is discreet.’
      • ‘Then, the keys emit soft clicks with each key press, much more discreet than the loud beep.’
      • ‘Some repairs to the shed and a discreet coat of green, brown or black woodstain might improve its appearance, for instance.’
      • ‘Their style is neat, discreet, simple, conservative and under-stated.’
      • ‘More matronly sorts opt instead for ye olde-style tea shoppes and here you can eavesdrop over a discreet pot of Darjeeling.’
      unobtrusive, inconspicuous
      View synonyms

Usage

The words discrete and discreet are pronounced in the same way and share the same origin but they do not mean the same thing. Discrete means ‘separate’, as in a finite number of discrete categories, while discreet means ‘careful and circumspect’, as in you can rely on him to be discreet

Origin

Middle English: from Old French discret, from Latin discretus ‘separate’, past participle of discernere ‘discern’, the sense arising from late Latin discretio (see discretion). Compare with discrete.

Pronunciation

discreet

/dɪˈskriːt/