Definition of discrete in US English:



  • Individually separate and distinct.

    ‘speech sounds are produced as a continuous sound signal rather than discrete units’
    • ‘Now I am going way out on a limb here, but could a discrete universe make this a moot point?’
    • ‘The atoms in iron, in contrast, do not cluster into discrete molecules.’
    • ‘Investors own units in the fund of funds but have no discrete units in the underlying funds.’
    • ‘Mosaic warts occur as collections of small, discrete and densely packed individual warts.’
    • ‘This extended arcade also sub-divides the site into a series of discrete landscapes.’
    • ‘Needless to say, the distinctions form a continuum, rather than discrete categories.’
    • ‘These conjoined applications raise one point in common and others discrete to the individual cases.’
    • ‘Assemblages are denned as coherent suites of plant fossils preserved in discrete lithological units.’
    • ‘That is, does age affect general ability or does it have discrete effects on individual abilities?’
    • ‘And it works when applications store stuff in discrete files, rather than their own data silo.’
    • ‘All of these may usually be discrete and distinct domains but one key theme of this chapter is that there are also overlaps.’
    • ‘Chips, being discrete units of food, rather than a single blob or lump of food, have a social element.’
    • ‘Is it a discrete inquiry by reference to the particular individual or is it a sort of general inquiry?’
    • ‘Whilst this book is a stand-alone title in that it deals with a discrete set of texts, it must also be seen as part of a much larger whole.’
    • ‘The patient does suffer a serious loss of cognitive function due to a discrete neurological injury, such as a stroke.’
    • ‘Signs are only meaningful within the system of signification in which they are produced, and not as discrete units.’
    • ‘It would provide, in other words, a discrete vehicle for important issues to be addressed.’
    • ‘We have seen that in an atom, possible electron energies come in a discrete series of distinct levels.’
    • ‘This book is not about discernment as a discrete act but rather treats it as a manner of living.’
    • ‘The Official Receiver has confined his allegations under this head to the following discrete matters.’
    separate, distinct, individual, detached, unattached, disconnected, discontinuous, disjunct, disjoined
    View synonyms


On the difference between discrete and discreet, see discreet


Late Middle English: from Latin discretus ‘separate’; compare with discreet.