Instantly enhance your writing in real-time while you type.
With LanguageTool

When To Use “Discrete” or “Discreet”

powered by LanguageTool

Learning English can be tricky, especially when you’re dealing with homophones like “discrete” and “discreet.” We’ll provide clear explanations and examples to help you learn what these words mean so that you can use them correctly in your writing.

White text over green background reads "Discrete vs Discreet"
“Discrete” and “discreet” are pronounced identically but have different meanings.
“Discrete” or “Discreet”: Quick Summary

Discrete is an adjective that describes a noun as “separate, distinct, or individual.” Discreet, on the other hand, is an adjective that describes someone or something as “cautious or unnoticeable.”

  • We divide our services into discrete categories to better serve our clients.
  • The private investigator was very discreet when conducting surveillance.

“Discrete” vs. “Discreet”

Discrete and discreet are homophones—words that have the same pronunciation but different meanings and spellings.

These types of words confuse native speakers and English language learners alike. Below, we’ll help you learn the difference between these terms  by thoroughly reviewing what they mean and showing you how to use them in a sentence.

By the time you’re done reading this blog post, you’ll be an expert on the distinctions between discrete and discreet.

Let’s begin!

What Does “Discrete” Mean?

Discrete is an adjective that describes a noun as “an individual or separate entity.” For example, a waiting room is a discrete part of a doctor’s office. If something is discrete, that means it’s “characterized by its distinct parts or elements.”

We used a discrete set of data points in our research to support the hypothesis.
The artist arranged the discrete shapes and colors in his paintings to create a cohesive yet vivid composition.
The company developed discrete algorithms to analyze data and generate accurate predictions.

In mathematics, the term discrete can describe a variable that takes on distinct, countable values.

The number of students in a class is a discrete variable because it can only take on a whole number from a finite set  (e.g., 20 students).

Synonyms for “Discrete”

Here are a few synonyms you can employ when using discrete to mean “apart or detached from others.”

1. Distinct

Although they look similar, the animals are two distinct species.

2. Separate

We designed separate hidden compartments to store valuables.

3. Individual

The professor asked the students in each group to formulate individual responses based on the findings.

4. Different

The twins had different personalities, despite their physical similarities.

5. Independent

The departments functioned as independent units, but still worked towards the same goal of increasing the company’s profits.

What Does “Discreet” Mean?

Discreet is an adjective that means “cautious, or unnoticeable.” It describes someone or something as not intending to attract attention. If someone is discreet, that means they are “careful in one’s speech or actions in order to keep a secret, avoid causing offense, or to gain an advantage.

She asked her boss for a discreet meeting because she wanted to avoid drawing attention to their conversation.
I slipped a discreet note to my friend during the lecture and no one noticed.
We had to figure out a discreet way of getting her to her surprise party without arousing suspicion.
He was discreet and was in and out of the office without anyone noticing.

Synonyms for “Discreet”

Synonyms for “discreet” when used to mean “not drawing attention” are:

1. Secretive

The author was very secretive about her work, never revealing what she was working on to anyone else.

2. Inconspicuous

No one is supposed to know I’m an undercover officer, so I have to be as inconspicuous as possible.

3. Unnoticeable

The camera was small and unnoticeable, hidden in plain sight among the decorations on the wall.

Synonyms for “discreet” when used to mean “cautious” include:

4. Prudent

The company took a prudent approach to investing.

5. Wary

He was wary of giving out too much personal information online.

Using “Discrete” and “Discreet” Correctly in Your Writing

When it comes to using discrete and discreet correctly in your writing, remember these points:

  • Discrete means “separate, individual, or divided.”
  • Discreet means “cautious,” “unnoticeable,” or “secretive.”
Graphic shows difference between disceet and discrete.
Do you understand the difference between “discrete” and “discreet”?

LanguageTool is an intelligent writing assistant that guarantees the correct use of homophones, including discrete and discreet, bear and bare, and any other commonly confused words.

The best part about it? It’s free to use!

Unleash the Professional Writer in You With LanguageTool

Go well beyond grammar and spell checking. Impress with clear, precise, and stylistically flawless writing instead.

Get started for free
We Value Your Feedback

We’ve made a mistake, forgotten about an important detail, or haven’t managed to get the point across? Let’s help each other to perfect our writing.