Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Constituting a separate thing: synonym: distinct.
  • adjective Consisting of unconnected distinct parts.
  • adjective Mathematics Defined for a finite or countable set of values; not continuous.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To separate; discontinue.
  • Separate; distinct from others; individual: opposed to concrete.
  • Consisting of distinct or individual parts; not continuous.
  • In Med., opposed to confluent: as, discrete exanthemata.
  • In botany, not coalescent; distinct.
  • Disjunctive; consisting of parts united by some extrinsic bond of connection. Thus, the notion of “women, sailors, and idiots” is a discrete notion.
  • Discretive; containing exceptions, real or apparent.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb obsolete To separate.
  • adjective Separate; distinct; disjunct.
  • adjective Disjunctive; containing a disjunctive or discretive clause.
  • adjective (Bot.) Separate; not coalescent; -- said of things usually coalescent.
  • adjective See Concrete movement of the voice, under Concrete, a.
  • adjective proportion where the ratio of the means is different from that of either couplet; as, 3:6::8:16, 3 bearing the same proportion to 6 as 8 does to 16. But 3 is not to 6 as 6 to 8. It is thus opposed to continued or continual proportion; as, 3:6::12:24.
  • adjective that which must be divided into units, as number, and is opposed to continued quantity, as duration, or extension.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Separate; distinct; individual; Non-continuous.
  • adjective That can be perceived individually and not as connected to, or part of something else.
  • adjective electrical engineering Having separate electronic components, such as individual resistors and inductors — the opposite of integrated circuitry.
  • adjective audio engineering Having separate and independent channels of audio, as opposed to multiplexed stereo or quadraphonic, or other multi-channel sound.
  • adjective topology Having each singleton subset open: said of a topological space or a topology.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective constituting a separate entity or part

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin discrētus, past participle of discernere, to separate; see discern.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French discret, from Latin discretus, from past participle of discernere.

Examples

  • Ecosystem is a conglomerate of biological and physical processes interacting to produce what we identify as a discrete unit of nature--e.g., the Everglades, a rainforest, a watershed.

    Archive 2007-02-01

  • Ecosystem is a conglomerate of biological and physical processes interacting to produce what we identify as a discrete unit of nature--e.g., the Everglades, a rainforest, a watershed.

    Irreversibility in Wicked Problems

  • Again, moderator, go to merriam-webster. com, do a search, and realize that "discrete" is the word you wanted above, not "discreet."

    Obama beats back criticism over head of VP search

  • These electrons reside in discrete energy levels, or electron orbits, around the nucleus.

    A nice blog review of Lost in Translation

  • But this is discrete from the experience of the decisions themselves.

    A Coda on Free Will

  • These electrons reside in discrete energy levels, or electron orbits, around the nucleus.

    The laser at 50

  • The story unfolds in discrete scenes, many of which last only as long as one action (looking over a parapet, turning a page), very much like comic panels.

    The Golem

  • Some political parties have made it a central focus, over the past fifty years, to convince certain discrete groups that they MUST be unhappy, that they are poor and poverty-locked even though they suffer no hunger or exposure or physical insecurity.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Anti-Wal-Mart Astroturf

  • The story unfolds in discrete scenes, many of which last only as long as one action (looking over a parapet, turning a page), very much like comic panels.

    The Golem

  • They operate in discrete cells, but their overarching goals and higher command structure remain a mystery.

    ‘Chuck’ Episode 3.04: ‘Chuck Versus Operation Awesome’ Recap » MTV Movies Blog

Comments

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  • Discrete = ("No, it is *not* the same as 'discreet'") x (More times than I can remember)

    February 9, 2007

  • diScrETe. Separate v. together.

    May 14, 2008

  • when you mean discreet

    May 19, 2009

  • "Discrete" means distinct or separate (the island of Crete is a discrete part of Greece). "Discreet" means quietly careful or judicious.

    September 12, 2011

  • Discrete v. discreet.

    Most of us can testify to it. After two or three heaping portions of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and Waldorf salad you’re bursting at the seams. You’re so sated that you had to discretely place a crumpled napkin over that uneaten turkey wing on your plate. --Ingrid Spilde

    Despite the usage gaff, the article Why You Always Have Room for Dessert is an interesting read.

    December 30, 2011

  • constituting a separate entity or part

    What was once known as Czechoslovakia has since split into two discrete, independent nations

    October 19, 2016