Unique definitions: Discreet vs. discrete

Sometimes, flipping a letter in a word can lead to quite radical results – like an entirely different definition. Such is the case with discreet vs. discrete.

Discreet means to conduct oneself in a prudent or judicious manner. To wit, Jane always was discrete about their liaisons when her lover’s spouse was with him.

Flip the last e with the t, however, and you get discrete, which means distinct or separate. For example, The introduction, body and conclusion paragraphs are discrete sections of an academic essay.

Here’s a quick memory trick for spelling the words: “The e’s are separate in discrete.”


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.