Confused Words - Discreet and Discrete

The confusion

The use of the words discreet and discrete is confusing. These words are easily confused because they are:

  • spelt almost similarly
  • and pronounced in the same way.

So what's the difference between discreet and discrete?


The word discreet is an adjective that means showing prudence and wise self-restraint in speech and behavior.

Synonyms of discreet include:

careful, circumspect, cautious, wary, chary, guarded; tactful, diplomatic, prudent, judicious...


  • She was very discreet, only saying what was necessary
  • With a discreet gesture, he signaled to his friend to leave the party.
  • The FBI made some discreet inquiries.


The word discrete is also an adjective. It refers to something individually separate and distinct. The opposite of discrete is connected.

Synonyms of discrete include:

separate, distinct, individual, detached, unattached, disconnected, discontinuous...


  • I can distinguish three discrete parts in this analysis.
  • There are several discrete sections.

A list of confused words