Showing posts with label Discrete. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Discrete. Show all posts

May 25, 2015

Discreet vs. Discrete

This pair of homophones (words that sound alike, but are different in meaning, spelling, or both) can be confusing. Discreet implies the showing of reserve in behavior or speech. Discrete means distinct, separate, unrelated.

Both words derive from the same Latin word discretus meaning “separated.” Until the 1700s, these words were each spelled many different ways including discrete, discreet, dyscrete, discreete, etc.

Eventually discrete and discreet came to be differentiated in spelling as well as in meaning. Discreet has yielded the noun discretion, but discrete's noun form is discreteness. For most of English history, discreet was more frequently used, but today discrete is much more frequently used than discreet; it has seen a dramatic rise since the 1940s.

If the e’s are separated by the “t”,  use “discrete” (meaning “separate”).

Dec 14, 2012

Discreet vs. Discrete

Discreet describes showing “reserve, prudence, or cautiousness” in one’s behavior or speech. The noun form of discreet is discretion. Both discreet and discrete derive from the Latin “discretus”, meaning separate, situated, put apart, which derives from the Late Latin discernere (where the word “discern” came from).

Discrete means “distinct, separate, or unrelated.” The noun form of discrete is discreteness.

Here is how each might be used in a sentence.
These two items are discrete.
The politician was not discreet.

Discrete and discreet are homophones; words that sound alike, but differ in meaning or spelling or both.