Discreet vs. Discrete

Lexical Vexations

discreet adj. unobtrusive; judicious.

discrete adj. separate, distinct.

Words in the Wild: Stephanie and Sanjay were separating the incoming resumes into discrete “interview” and “maybe” piles as they were submitted. But, unbeknownst to the applicants, they were also discreetly tossing the “definitely nots” directly into the recycling bin.

If you have trouble keeping these words straight, you can use this handy mnemonic: the Es in discrete are separate from one another, the Es in discreet are huddled together to be less noticeable.

Still vexed? You can find a complete list of the Word Blog’s lexical vexations here.

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