Difference between Discrete and Discreet

Key Difference: Discrete refers to something that is distinct and separate from the others. Things can be labeled as discrete if they are separate and different from each other. Discreet, on the other hand, refers to something that is kept quiet, or on the down low. Something discreet is something one does not want everyone to know.

Discrete and discreet are a set of homophones, which means that they are words that sound alike but are actually spelt differently and have different meanings.

Discrete refers to something that is distinct and separate from the others. Things can be labeled as discrete if they are separate and different from each other. It can also refer to something that has an infinite number of possibilities, however, as long as those possibilities are different from each other. In science, discrete also refers to something that is non-continuous.

Discrete basically means something that is separate or divided. Something discrete can be separate from something else, or it can be a smaller but separate part of something else. For example: A room is a discrete space within a house.

Discreet, on the other hand, refers to something that is kept quiet, or on the down low. Something discreet is something one does not want everyone to know. Anything that is said or done discreetly is said and done is such as way as to attract the least amount of attention or notice.

Discreet can also refer to something that shows good behavior, prudence and self-restraint in speech and behavior. For example: the lady was discreet when discussing her family matters. Basically, tactful or diplomatic. Additionally, discreet can also refer to something that is small-scale, hidden, and downplayed, for example, a bookshelf built discreetly into the wall.

An easy way to distinguish between Discrete and Discreet is to note that in discreet the two ‘e’s are together, whereas in discrete, the two ‘e’s are separated by the ‘t’. Hence, the spelling in which the ‘e’s are separate means something distinct and separate, whereas the other is a secret.

 Note how the T separates the two Es in “discrete.”

Comparison between Discrete and Discreet:

 

Discrete

Discreet

Type

Adjective

Adjective

Definition (Merriam-Webster)

  • constituting a separate entity:  individually distinct <several discrete sections>
  • consisting of distinct or unconnected elements:  noncontinuous
  • taking on or having a finite or countably infinite number of values <discrete probabilities> <a discrete random variable>
  • Not likely to be seen or noticed by many people
  • Having or showing discernment or good judgment in conduct and especially in speech
  • Unpretentious, modest <the warmth and discreet elegance of a civilized home — Joseph Wechsberg>
  • Unobtrusive, unnoticeable <followed at a discreet distance>

Description

Discrete refers to separate and different things. Something that is separate, distinctive and individualistic is considered to be discrete. In science, discrete is the opposite of continuous.

Discreet refers to keeping a secret. Keeping something discreet meaning keeping it quiet and hushed so that not a lot of people find out about it. Discreet also refers to something that is demure and showing good behavior, as well as something that is modest and reserved.

Related to

Separate

Careful and secretive

Examples

  • He made two discrete lists.
  • The objects were categorized into two discrete groups.
  • We have a group of discrete systems in place.
  • The data is giving a series of discrete number.
  • Keep the party planning discreet, I want it to be a surprise.
  • A discreet house.
  • I told you that discreetly.
  • She discreetly signaled her husband that she wanted to leave.
  • He handled the situation discretely.

Image Courtesy: homophonesweakly.blogspot.com, grammar.about.com

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