Definition of discreet in US English:

discreet

adjective

  • 1Careful and circumspect in one's speech or actions, especially in order to avoid causing offense or to gain an advantage.

    ‘we made some discreet inquiries’
    • ‘Do they fear physical harm or do they fear being forced to be discreet so as to avoid physical harm?’
    • ‘He tries to be more discreet about his own political leanings.’
    • ‘He had been careful to maintain a discreet distance between the architects of the plan and the hired help.’
    • ‘They apply their mind and are trained to be discreet enough to prevent people from knowing that they are being watched.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Autobiographies are often curiously discreet about the awful transition.’
    • ‘Their bodyguards followed them around the place at discreet distances.’
    • ‘It is possible to be discreet, and a lot of famous people are.’
    • ‘She is diplomatically discreet about the pitfalls for foreign firms in the country.’
    • ‘I wish I were a discreet sort of person in whom others could confide.’
    • ‘Please note that it is important from the outset that you should be discreet about your interest in joining the Service.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A lot of their work is carried out in a very discreet and confidential manner.’
    • ‘Clearly he considered this work to be creative and, while he is often bold in his alterations, he can also be discreet and delicate.’
    • ‘In Britain, we'd see that as just being discreet, not making a fuss, not imposing yourself arrogantly on other people.’
    • ‘He was a delightful man but he had a very discreet nature.’
    • ‘Probably to avoid arousing the ire of his notoriously touchy band mates, he becomes more discreet and less gossipy as time goes by.’
    • ‘The agent was one of the most tactful and discreet people that I have ever met in my life.’
    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.’
      • ‘Wearing a smart green dress and discreet golden earrings, she seemed every inch the sophisticated operator.’
      • ‘He jumps in his chair at a discreet cough immediately beside him.’
      • ‘Specially tuned cars usually boast a discreet logo.’
      • ‘Then, the keys emit soft clicks with each key press, much more discreet than the loud beep.’
      • ‘It is large, bound in luxurious leather, with discreet gold lettering announcing its pedigree.’
      • ‘But, immaculately dressed in a dark-grey trouser suit, the effect is discreet.’
      • ‘As you would expect from a Roux protégé, his sauces are intensely delicious but discreet and not over-rich.’
      • ‘She's looking good in black suit, styled hair and discreet (but still obvious) makeup.’
      • ‘A discreet cough alerted him to the couple's readiness to leave.’
      • ‘Steel toe-cap boots can prove to be an excellent equaliser - smart-looking and discreet is best.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Some repairs to the shed and a discreet coat of green, brown or black woodstain might improve its appearance, for instance.’
      • ‘There is a discreet knock on the door of the mayoral chamber.’
      • ‘He said they might still be able to wear discreet turbans to school but did not mention their facial hair.’
      • ‘Their style is neat, discreet, simple, conservative and under-stated.’
      • ‘Their discreet designer labels send out waves of attitude like bullets, but secretly they delight in the attention.’
      • ‘And here is an orchestration of imagery that is as powerful as it is discreet.’
      • ‘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

/diˈskrēt//dɪˈskrit/