Definition of discretion in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɪˈskrɛʃ(ə)n/


[mass noun]
1The quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offence or revealing confidential information: she knew she could rely on his discretion I’ll be the soul of discretion
More example sentences
  • The truth is any parent who thinks their child is the soul of discretion on the internet is likely to be wrong.
  • If these people play fair and use discretion and common sense, they shall have my full support.
  • Whoever put them in that group probably hoped discretion and goodwill would make sense of an anomaly.
circumspection, care, carefulness, caution, wariness, chariness, guardedness;
tact, tactfulness, diplomacy, delicacy, sensitivity, subtlety, consideration, prudence, judiciousness, judgement, discrimination, sense, good sense, common sense;
kid gloves
2The freedom to decide what should be done in a particular situation: local authorities should use their discretion in setting the charges honorary fellowships may be awarded at the discretion of the council
More example sentences
  • Rules say bus drivers can use their discretion regarding dogs but they must have a valid reason for refusing.
  • He says he hopes selectors use their discretion and pick him for the event anyway.
  • However, it is entirely at the discretion of local authorities how this is applied.
choice, option, judgement, preference, disposition, volition;
pleasure, liking, wish, will, inclination, desire


discretion is the better part of valour

proverb It’s better to avoid a dangerous situation than to confront it.
Example sentences
  • There are times when discretion is the better part of valour, of course.
  • ‘There's a point at which discretion is the better part of valour with respect to legal disputes,’ he said.
  • My co-worker came from this area, however, and discretion is the better part of valour.


Middle English (in the sense 'discernment'): via Old French from Latin discretio(n-) 'separation' (in late Latin 'discernment'), from discernere (see discern).

  • In Latin discretio developed from ‘separation’ to ‘fine judgement’, an ability to separate ideas, the sense in which it entered English in the Middle Ages. The proverb discretion is the better part of valour was familiar in Shakespeare's time. The idea is even older, having a parallel in the works of the Greek dramatist Euripides in the 5th century bc.

Words that rhyme with discretion

cession, freshen, session

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dis|cre¦tion

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