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Discreet? or Discrete?

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This 5 Minute Grammar lesson is dedicated to my friend, Jessica, who asked me to add it to the list. Honestly, I had to look up these two words, because I didn’t know how to explain the difference. So here goes:

Discreet or Discrete ~ 5 minute grammar lesson

DISCRETE means separate or distinct. When you’re trying to point out differences in particular groups, use DISCRETE. Discrete components, discrete food groups, discrete values.

DISCREET, on the other hand, means prudent, circumspect, sneaky-ish.

So, if you’re trying to ask a person to be careful not to spoil a surprise, use the word DISCREET. A discreet affair, a discreet area for a nursing mother, a discreet internet cafe.

One way to remember the difference is to think about how the T in Discrete separates the two Es, into separate parts. Got it?

And when all else fails, google is really smart! 🙂

And that’s your 5 Minute Grammar lesson. Enjoy the weekend. Do you have topic you’d like me to cover? Please share.

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About Michelle

Michelle Marine is green living enthusiast and rural Iowa mom of four. An avid traveler, Michelle has lived on three different continents and has driven all four kids across the entire USA (by herself!). She loves sharing farm-to-table recipes, their family travel adventures, and gardening and homesteading tips on her popular lifestyle blog, SimplifyLiveLove.com.


  1. blankBecky Bain says

    I recently read a book – published by a major publishing house, written by a genuine best-selling author – in which the word “discrete” was used TWICE where, from context, the writer clearly meant “discreet”. I assume that an editor and a copy editor both had their hands on this before publication, so I can’t be sure where the error originated. But really. The editor and the copy editor, at the very least, should know the difference.

    I learned these words back in junior high school.

  2. blankVelmaD says

    I LOVE this post! I’m a word nerd by nature and in my main occupation, so I’m smiling right now. I’m not sure how I found your blog, but following your likes will provide enjoyable sidetracks for a long time as we have many interests in common. I have much to learn.

  3. blankCheri A says

    I have landed on your blog from someone else’s blog, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed looking around. I have many shared thoughts, and I absolutely love this little part of the blog. It is nice to see another wordsmith. 🙂 I am an editor for court reporters, and I am always looking these two words up to make sure that I have the correct spelling. The words can come up in the same transcript both ways often. I love the tip for remembering where the “T” is. Thank you!

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