Professional Style

Discreet vs. Discrete

June 2014
Spot the Error

Since Mitchell didn’t want to be hounded by gold diggers, he was discrete about his newly acquired wealth.

The correct word for the “gold digger” sentence above is discreet, not discrete. Discreet means cautious, reserved, or modest. Mitchell was discreet about his wealth.

Discrete is also a word—the wrong word, but still a word. Discrete means individual, separate, or detached. Example:

There were three discrete earthquakes in Ecuador within a ten-hour span.

Here’s an easy way to remember the difference between these homophones:

  • Discreet – The “ee’s” are huddled together; quiet and discreet.
  • Discrete – The “ee’s” are separated by the “t”; separate or discrete.

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