Discrete vs Discreet

Here we'll consider Discrete vs Discreet.

"Discrete" and "discreet" are homophones, which are words that are pronounced the same way but have different meanings, origins, or spelling. 


Discrete is an adjective, used to describe things that are individually separate and distinct.

It represents countable things or items that are unconnected to each other and is usually applied in mathematics or physics, but can be used in various contexts.

Synonyms would be separate, independent, or distinct

Examples of Discrete:

  • The project was broken down into discrete (separate/distinct) phases.
  • The universe is made up of discrete particles.
  • They carried out a discrete analysis of the financial structure of the organization.
  • The plans fall into two discrete categories.
  • He identified three discrete bursts of light coming from the source.


On the other hand, discreet is also an adjective, but it describes being careful or circumspect in one's speech or actions, especially in order to avoid causing offence or attracting attention.

For instance:

  • He made a discreet inquiry about her health, not wanting to draw attention to her condition in front of others.

So in other words, he didn't openly make inquiries so others would know about it, but did it subtly.

It can also refer to physical things, such as a discreet logo on a shirt (i.e. the logo is not really obvious to see, perhaps being very small).

Examples of Discreet:

  • They made discreet inquiries about the matter.
  • She sent a discreet cough to signal that the meeting was about to begin.
  • He was discreet in his response to the controversial question.
  • The sign was small and discreet, barely noticeable.
  • Despite the celebrity's fame, he maintained a discreet presence in the small town.

Practice what you've learned in this discrete vs discreet quiz >>

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