discreet (adj.)

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.

Origin and meaning of discreet

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Definitions of discreet from WordNet

discreet (adj.)
marked by prudence or modesty and wise self-restraint;
his trusted discreet aide
a discreet, finely wrought gold necklace
discreet (adj.)
unobtrusively perceptive and sympathetic;
a discreet silence
Synonyms: discerning
discreet (adj.)
heedful of potential consequences;
a discreet investor
Synonyms: circumspect