Share this entry
discreet Line breaks: dis|creet
Pronunciation: /dɪˈskriːt/

Definition of discreet in English:

adjective (discreeter, discreetest)

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
More example sentences
  • A lot of their work is carried out in a very discreet and confidential manner.
  • The purpose of the bullying audit was explained and their participation in a confidential and discreet interview was invited.
  • Do they fear physical harm or do they fear being forced to be discreet so as to avoid physical harm?
careful, circumspect, cautious, wary, chary, guarded, close-lipped, close-mouthed;
tactful, diplomatic, considerate, politic, prudent, judicious, strategic, wise, sensible;
delicate, kid-glove
informal softly-softly
1.1Intentionally unobtrusive: a discreet cough
More example sentences
  • A discreet cough alerted him to the couple's readiness to leave.
  • He jumps in his chair at a discreet cough immediately beside him.
  • I talked to him last week in the understated luxury of the discreet Residence.
unobtrusive, inconspicuous;
subtle, low-key, understated, subdued, muted, soft, restrained, unostentatious, downbeat, low-profile


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.


Pronunciation: /dɪˈskriːtnəs/
Example sentences
  • But the discreetness goes beyond what is laid down.
  • It sometimes slips by in its discreetness, with the mildest distraction.
  • I apologize for my discreetness, but I did not wish for you to panic.


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.

Words that rhyme with discreet

accrete, autocomplete, beet, bittersweet, bleat, cheat, cleat, clubfeet, compete, compleat, complete, conceit, Crete, deceit, delete, deplete, discrete, eat, effete, élite, entreat, escheat, estreat, excrete, feat, feet, fleet, gîte, greet, heat, leat, leet, Magritte, maltreat, marguerite, meat, meet, meet-and-greet, mesquite, mete, mistreat, neat, outcompete, peat, Pete, petite, pleat, receipt, replete, sangeet, seat, secrete, sheet, skeet, sleet, splay-feet, street, suite, sweet, teat, treat, tweet, wheat
Definition of discreet in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources