Discrete or Discreet?

by Craig Shrives

Discrete or Discreet?

What is the difference between "discrete" and "discreet"?

"Discrete" means "individually distinct." For example:
  • The ship has four discrete sections.
"Discreet" means "inconspicuous" or "respecting secrecy." For example:
  • His service is very discreet.
discrete or discreet?

A Video Summary

Here is a short video summarizing the difference between "discrete" and "discreet."

More about "Discrete"

The adjective "discrete" means "individually distinct" or "separate" (i.e., something that is not part of something else).

Examples:
  • There is a rack on the bench that contains all the discrete electronic components.
  • Our club has three discrete membership categories.

More about "Discreet"

The adjective "discreet" means "respecting secrecy," "inconspicuous," or "diplomatic."

Examples:
  • You can trust my aide — he is very discreet.
  • The painting was won by a discreet telephone bidder.

Ways to Remember Discrete and Discreet

With "discrete" the e's are separated. Let this remind you that "discrete" means "individually distinct."

With "discreet" the two e's look like shifty eyes. Let this remind you that "discreet" means "secretive."

Discrete Variables

In Mathematics, there is a type of variable called a "discrete variable." A discrete variable is one that cannot take on all values within its range. For example, in a survey, you might be asked to rate a holiday from 1 to 5. In this survey, you cannot choose 1.7 or 3.4. You can only choose 1,2,3,4 or 5. You cannot pick any values in between. The survey expects you to select a discrete variable.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are adjectives? List of easily confused words