Friday, May 13, 2011

Homonyms Happen: Discrete & Discreet

Some homonyms are easy—for example, flour and flower. Others…well, even for native English speakers, not so much. This is the first in a new series that explains homonyms and offers ways to help remember which is which.

Discrete: separate, distinct
Discreet: intentionally unobtrusive; careful to not over-share

A professor from college taught me the trick to tell the difference between these two—it’s in the e’s:
In discrete, the e’s are separated by a t (they are separate and distinct from each other).
In discreet, the e’s are together (they hold each other close—what discreet people do with secrets!).

Using both in a sentence: Discreet people often have their own discrete pieces of information that, if all combined, could form one very juicy novella.

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