## What Is the Difference between "Discrete" and "Discreet"?

The Quick Answer

*Discrete*means individually distinct. For example:

- The ship has four discrete sections.

*Discreet*means inconspicuous. For example:

- His service is very discreet.

## Discrete and Discreet

The words*discrete*and

*discreet*sound identical, but their meanings are different (i.e., they are homonyms).

## Discrete

The adjective*discrete*means

*individually distinct*or

*separate*(i.e., something that is not part of something else).

Examples:

- There is a rack on the bench that contains all the discrete electronic components.
- Our club has three discrete membership categories.

## Discreet

The adjective*discreet*means

*respecting secrecy*,

*inconspicuous*, or

*diplomatic*.

Examples:

- You can trust my aide — he is very discreet.
- The painting was won by a discreet telephone bidder.

## A Quick Test

Hot Tip

#### Ways to Remember Discrete and Discreet

With*discr*the e's are separated. Let this remind you that

**e**t**e***discrete*means

*individually distinct*.

With

*discr*the two e's look like shifty eyes. Let this remind you that

**ee**t*discreet*means

*secretive*.

A Note from Teacher

## Discrete Variables

In Mathematics, there is a type of variable called a*discrete variable*. A discrete variable is one that cannot take on all values within its range. For example, in a survey, you might be asked to rate a holiday from 1 to 5. In this survey, you cannot choose 1.7 or 3.4. You can only choose 1,2,3,4 or 5. You cannot pick any values in between. The survey expects you to select a discrete variable.

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