Discreet or discrete?

These two words sound exactly the same but have different meanings.

Discreet is an adjective, meaning careful or reserved in one’s speech or actions, often to avoid offending someone or to gain an advantage:

  • He is very discreet.
  • I will make some discreet enquiries for you.

Discrete is an adjective meaning separate, in distinct parts:

  • There are five discrete categories.
  • The units in digital recordings are discrete.
  • hardlearner says:

    thanks for posting the meaning of these two words. As cristina said Spanish speaking people may use the one term discrete with the meaning of the other discreet because discrete closely resembles the Spanish word discreto

  • Irene Fallavier says:

    Dear Joe,

    It is a big help for me to teach english, by showing the difference between homonymes and when to use two different words with the same meaning (ex. say or tell). My students are very much satisfied to learn somethings which are really confusing. Please do continue to give more information about such things. Thank you very much for all your concern and more power.


  • yassir says:

    dear joe,
    i would like strongly to thank u for this golden infromation, really it is the first time i know the difference between discreet and discret.i hope that u gonna continue the same way in providing us with new information .


  • Arejdal says:

    The mean feature of English compared to other languages that i’ve learned (Tamazight, Fran├žais, Arabe) is the big number of confusing words. Words that sound the same but are differentt in transcription. Thanks a lot!!

  • Hianmori says:

    Thanks a lot Joe

  • wafa says:

    Dear sir,

    I remmbered one of 7 secrets that you submitted on your websit which says improve your vocabukary 5 word a day at least .

    All my respect and alot of thanks on these great informations to improve our language .

    I really love the way that you do it to benefit us and to know
    the differences of meaning words .

    BTW I saved all your lessons on my computre and I feel happy and proud when I show my friends the new inforamtion that I learned from you .

    waiting more

    Thanks Alots


  • solange says:

    Teacher Joe,
    I need to do my final writting for my English course but I really don’t know what to write about yet… I thought about ‘techniques for using music to teach L2 student’…Do u have something about that could helpe me? If yes, please e.mail me!

  • solange says:

    Awsome! It helped me a lot to improve and enlarge my vocabulary. TKX!!

  • Nina says:

    good to know this.


  • alaaayman says:

    Thank you very much . I know another way to enrich my blog : Egyptsuccessland . Indeed ESL blogs is a better chance to know the best friends who help us learn and teach English well.
    Thanks a lot

  • alaaayman says:

    Thank you very much . I know another way to enrich my blog : Egyptsuccessland . Indeed ESL blogs is a better chance to know the best friends who help us learn and teach English well.
    Thanks a lot

  • HAJIR says:


  • bashir says:

    Good job! that is the word of the day!

  • Manuela Gamero says:

    thank you for your explanation. It’s very useful for Portuguese speaking learners and teachers.

  • Aziz says:

    I wonder how English Language have all that………..

  • Alpesh says:

    it is really a good to know the words so one can use it appropriately.


  • Ahmed says:

    thanks alot for the information about the differences.
    you really enrich our background of meanings

  • monica says:

    Thank you,this information about differences in meaning is always very useful.

  • shams says:

    Thanks for your very nice information about these confusing words, you make an important contribution to my knowlege.

  • Harjeet Singh says:

    These words can be confusing if not understood by students as well as teachers. Thank you for the information.

  • shadia says:

    thanks it useful words which some time we canot relaise what mean.

  • bedri says:

    thanks for these confusing words, you know when someone deals with such confusing words , he feels that he has a good account, i.e. rich, thank u for enriching us,thanks for your generosity.

  • Alevtina says:

    Thank you for such a helpful piece of information. Hope you will continue publishing short and understandable articles on various items, especially words easily confused.

  • Narmeen says:

    Wow being an English lecturer I’ve never realised the difference of these 2 words, though I use discreete often but never discrete. Its very informative and refreshing. Please highlight more of these type of words, useful to use in lecture’s quizz.

  • hanane says:

    Hullo Dear Sir, it’s gonna be a great honor for me to take part in this festival of “thankyouing” you.so thank you for caring. i do really love joe’s cafe.

  • Samira_Az says:

    Hi,Thanks Joe so much! ))) I love to enlarge my vocabulary in order to improve my English..

  • Dina says:

    Homonyms always cause truobles even in our native language.
    Thanks a lot for useful information

  • Iren says:

    Thanks for interesting information. You make an important contribution to our knowlege.

  • sue says:

    Thanks a lot
    i love these words

  • Giang Minh Nhat says:

    Thanks for this explanation. Well, I know 2 more English words in order to enrich my vocabulary.

  • Tiana says:


  • soltan says:

    It seems new information to me
    thanks alot

  • faiza says:

    thanks for these nice,useful information.please keep me on touch!

  • cristina says:

    It was so much useful to know the difference between the two words, also I am afraid that many Spanish speakers had been using it wrong, because it is a false cognate. to be careful in Spanish is “discreto”, so we can
    be used discret in a wrong way.

  • hitesh says:

    yes it is realy useful to know something more about some different meaning and its use in normal life

  • sunil nair says:

    it was so nice to kno d distinct meanings of the two words discreet n discrete.
    V may not realise the importance of the difference in the meaning n understand one for the other. However, in many a competitive exams, it has come as questions to evaluate ur verbal ability by asking d students to differentiate n choose the correct word with reference to the context available in the question.
    thanks for making this difference appear so subtle n easy.

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