discrete (adj.)

"separate, distinct from others," late 14c., from Old French discret, discre, and directly from Latin discretus "separated;" see discreet. Related: Discretely; discreteness.

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discreet (adj.)
Origin and meaning of discreet

late-14c., "morally discerning, prudent, circumspect, wise or judicious in avoiding mistakes," from Old French discret "discreet, sensible, intelligent, wise," from Latin discretus "separated, distinct," in Medieval Latin "discerning, careful," past participle of discernere "to separate, set apart, divide, distribute; distinguish, perceive," from dis- "off, away" (see dis-) + cernere "distinguish, separate, sift" (from PIE root *krei- "to sieve," thus "discriminate, distinguish").

Meaning "separate, distinct" in English is late 14c. Spellings discrete and nativized discreet co-existed until after c. 1600, when discreet became the common word for "careful, prudent," and discrete was maintained in philosophy, medicine, music and other disciplines that remembered Latin and took some pains to show it. Related: Discreetly.

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indiscreet (adj.)
"imprudent, not discrete, lacking good judgment," early 15c., from Medieval Latin indiscretus, from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + Latin discretus "separated, distinct" (in Medieval Latin "discerning, careful"), past participle of discernere "distinguish" (see discern). A Medieval Latin secondary sense of the word that also became indiscrete. Related: Indiscreetly; indiscreetness.
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sapience (n.)

late 14c., "wisdom, understanding, sageness; the reasonable soul, that which distinguishes humans from beasts," from Old French sapience and directly from Latin sapientia "good taste, good sense, discernment; intelligence, wisdom," from sapiens "sensible; shrewd, knowing, discrete;" also "well-acquainted with the true value of things," like Greek sophos (see sapient). Formerly also sometimes especially "intelligent taste" (1660s). OED calls it "A learned synonym. Now rare in serious use."

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zone (n.)

late 14c., from Latin zona "geographical belt, celestial zone," from Greek zōnē "a belt, the girdle worn by women at the hips," from zōnnynai "to gird," from PIE root *yos- "to gird" (source also of Avestan yasta- "girt," Lithuanian juosiu, juosti "to gird," Old Church Slavonic po-jasu "girdle"). The 10c. Anglo-Saxon treatise on astronomy translates Latin quinque zonas as fyf gyrdlas.

Originally one of the five great divisions of the earth's surface (torrid, temperate, frigid; separated by tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and Arctic and Antarctic circles); meaning "any discrete region" is first recorded 1822. Zone defense in team sports is recorded from 1927.

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sapient (adj.)

"wise, sage, discerning," late 15c. (early 15c. as a surname), from Old French sapient and directly from Latin sapientem (nominative sapiens) "sensible; shrewd, knowing, discrete;" also "well-acquainted with the true value of things" (like Greek sophos), a specialized use of the present participle of sapere, of things, "to taste, have taste;" of persons, "to have discernment, be wise."

This is reconstructed to be from PIE root *sep- (1) "to taste, perceive;" source also of Old Saxon ansebban "to perceive, remark," Old High German antseffen, Old English sefa "mind, understanding, insight," Old Norse sefi "thought"). "[N]ow generally used ironically" [Century Dictionary]. Related: Sapiently; sapiential.

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galaxy (n.)

late 14c., from French galaxie or directly from Late Latin galaxias "the Milky Way" as a feature in the night sky (in classical Latin via lactea or circulus lacteus), from Greek galaxias (adj.), in galaxias kyklos, literally "milky circle," from gala (genitive galaktos) "milk" (from PIE root *g(a)lag- "milk").

The technical astronomical sense in reference to the discrete stellar aggregate including the sun and all visible stars emerged by 1848. Figurative sense of "brilliant assembly of persons" is from 1580s. Milky Way is a translation of Latin via lactea.

See yonder, lo, the Galaxyë Which men clepeth the Milky Wey, For hit is whyt. [Chaucer, "House of Fame"]

Originally ours was the only one known. Astronomers began to speculate by mid-19c. that some of the spiral nebulae they could see in telescopes were actually immense and immensely distant structures the size and shape of the Milky Way. But the matter was not settled in the affirmative until the 1920s.

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creep (n.)

1818, "a creeping motion, act of creeping," from creep (v.). Meaning "imperceptible motion" is by 1813 in reference to coal mines, 1889 in geology.

Meaning "despicable person" is by 1886, American English slang, perhaps from earlier sense of "a sneak" (1876). Creeper "a gilded rascal" is recorded from c. 1600, and the word also was used of certain classes of thieves, especially those who robbed customers in brothels. The creeps "a feeling of dread or revulsion" is first attested 1849, in Dickens.

Mission creep (1994) is American English, originally military, "unconscious expansion of troops' role in a foreign operation," and used especially in reference to the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu.

From the military perspective, the scapegoat for Somalia was "mission creep." We deployed for one discrete purpose and found ourselves employed for a multiplicity of other missions. This is naive. United States ground forces will likely never again deploy abroad without experiencing the demands of mission creep. [Ralph Peters, "Winning Against Warriors," in Strategic Review, summer 1996]
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work (n.)

Old English weorc, worc "something done, discrete act performed by someone, action (whether voluntary or required), proceeding, business; that which is made or manufactured, products of labor," also "physical labor, toil; skilled trade, craft, or occupation; opportunity of expending labor in some useful or remunerative way;" also "military fortification," from Proto-Germanic *werka- "work" (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch werk, Old Norse verk, Middle Dutch warc, Old High German werah, German Werk, Gothic gawaurki), from PIE *werg-o-, suffixed form of root *werg- "to do."

Meaning "physical effort, exertion" is from c. 1200; meaning "scholarly labor" or its productions is from c. 1200; meaning "artistic labor" or its productions is from c. 1200. Meaning "labor as a measurable commodity" is from c. 1300. Meaning "embroidery, stitchery, needlepoint" is from late 14c.

Work of art attested by 1774 as "artistic creation," earlier (1728) "artifice, production of humans (as opposed to nature)." Work ethic recorded from 1959. To be out of work "unemployed" is from 1590s. To make clean work of is from c. 1300; to make short work of is from 1640s.

Proverbial expression many hands make light work is from c. 1300. To have (one's) work cut out for one is from 1610s; to have it prepared and prescribed, hence, to have all one can handle. Work in progress is from 1930 in a general sense, earlier as a specific term in accountancy and parliamentary procedure.

Work is less boring than amusing oneself. [Baudelaire, "Mon Coeur mis a nu," 1862]
Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions. [attributed to Mark Twain]
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