Thursday, June 27, 2013

Discrete has nothing to do with Discretion...

So, time for another editing lesson!  This week: discrete vs. discreet!  I see this all over the place, and I can actually understand where the confusion comes from.  After all, "discretion" has only the one "e" there all by itself, so logic says it should be "discrete."


Okay, so "discrete" means (according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary):

: constituting a separate entity : individually distinct <several discrete sections>
a : consisting of distinct or unconnected elements :noncontinuous
b : taking on or having a finite or countably infinite number of values <discrete probabilities> <a discrete random variable>
— dis·crete·ly adverb
— dis·crete·ness noun

Whereas "discreet" means:

: having or showing discernment or good judgment in conduct and especially in speech : prudentespecially : capable of preserving prudent silence
: unpretentiousmodest <the warmth and discreet elegance of a civilized home — Joseph Wechsberg>

I hope that helps!  Please be sure to review earlier editing tips We Gotta Get Out of This Habit and Department of Redundancy Department.

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