Word Fact: What’s the Difference Between “Discreet” and “Discrete”?

puzzle pieces

This is another pair of homophones (words that sound alike but are different in meaning, spelling, or both) that can be very confusing. Discreet implies the showing of reserve and prudence in one’s behavior or speech. Discrete means something quite different: “distinct, separate, unrelated.”

Both words derive from the same Latin word discretus meaning “separated.” Until the 1700s, these words were each spelled many different ways including discrete, discreet, dyscrete, discreete, etc. Eventually discrete and discreet came to be differentiated in spelling as well as in meaning. Discreet has yielded the noun discretion, but discrete‘s noun form is discreteness. For most of English history, discreet was more frequently used, but today discrete is much more frequently used than discreet; it has seen a dramatic rise since the 1940s according to Google nGram.

Here are a few useful examples that exemplify their differences:

“They balked when the company hiked its price a few bucks a month, and they absolutely howled when Netflix tried to separate DVD rentals and online streaming into two discrete services.” –Matt Peckham, “Netflix Was Right, and We’re Being Fickle,” Time, October 25, 2011

“The beans, too, are not the usual congealing muddle, but discrete drops of heirloom yellow-eyes, scented with coriander.” –Ligaya Mishan, “Salsa, Flirting With Bok Choy,” New York Times, April 3, 2014

“Munro is a great writer; a wise writer; a free and brave, exacting, transformative, generous, and profoundly discreet writer.” –Gish Jen, “Alice Munro, Cinderella Story,” The Daily Beast, October 12, 2013

“It makes sense because texting is more discreet and can’t be overheard…” –Lily Hay Newman,” Crisis Hotlines Now Offer Texting With Counselors,” Slate, February 10, 2014


  1. Eliana -  December 12, 2016 - 10:33 am

    I am a very discreet Discrete Math teacher.

  2. Lara -  December 6, 2016 - 11:27 pm

    Where have you all come from? Where have you been hiding? I have found my people! Talking about WORDS. I’m so happy.

  3. RichieD -  November 28, 2016 - 12:38 pm

    I was amazed to find I’d been reading for a long time and was only about 30% down the page!! What an entertaining gem this rare find of a blog is, and all started over the placement of an”e”!
    It seems to me, that “discreet” is a sub-form of “discrete”. When thinking of the meaning of “[dih-skreet]“, a definition more like “careful sorting” or “delicate choice” comes to my mind. Is not a secret a separation from some other? So “discrete” may be a more generalized term, properly applicable in any desired context, whereas “discreet” would be limited to use in communications, Verbally it doesn’t matter how you spell it, and spelling it only matters where the other has to read the communication.
    There, their and they’re, when improperly used by the writer is like getting tripped when running. It’s an unplanned hesitation in the flow of ideas, to straighten out the meaning. Then I become more careful, watching for other possible indiscretions for the remainder of the event.

    • S. Harrington -  December 5, 2016 - 6:52 am

      So, Crete is discrete of Greece?

    • Cowzzz -  December 8, 2016 - 10:35 am


  4. SamTheGreenCat -  November 26, 2016 - 6:07 pm

    Discrete is when you are trying show someone where the Greek island of Crete is on a map and moving your finger over the map you say when you find it ” Here! dis Crete!”

  5. Jose Calvillo,Jr. -  November 21, 2016 - 7:15 pm

    Very extensive and well organized. Very detailed information.

  6. Gary -  November 16, 2016 - 7:56 am

    I thought discreet was where cars drove.

    • Chuck H -  November 17, 2016 - 9:25 am

      Gary, that thought goes through my head every time I hear discreet or indiscreet…Thank you for letting my 49 y.o. self know that I’m not the only one with a 10 y.o. smart-mouth living in my head.

    • amy -  November 21, 2016 - 11:50 am

      and…it took me quite a while to get your comment, Gary…and then I almost laughed out loud!!!

    • gray wilson -  December 11, 2016 - 12:23 am

      dancin’ indiscreet is illegal in many municipalities.

  7. Squiddyboii. -  November 14, 2016 - 4:06 pm

    Thank you, comments, for distracting me from my chemistry homework. I owe you all a ton <3

  8. Kay Dickinson -  November 11, 2016 - 6:35 am

    So – discreet is discrete from discrete…. fascinating!

    • Deke Eusey -  December 2, 2016 - 10:27 am

      Actually, ‘discreet’ is discrete from ‘discrete’ and discretion is discrete from discreteness. Neither ‘discreet’ nor ‘discrete’ is a noun.

  9. Novel in the Works -  August 15, 2016 - 9:52 am

    You guys are so bad for me! I have got to get back to writing my novel!

    • C.A. Smith -  August 27, 2016 - 3:35 pm

      Anyone in the semiconductor industry in the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s would understand descrete as defining a product type i.e. descrete devices.

      • David Norfolk -  August 31, 2016 - 3:55 am

        Interesting. “descrete” Is not listed in dictionary.com and I could not find it in two other dictionaries I consulted (Concise Oxford & Oxford New American). So it appears not to be a recognised word either in its own right or as an alternative spelling of discrete. As a matter of etymological curiosity only, what did or does the word “descrete” mean in this technical context as a type of electronic device?

        • Lisa Nuckolls -  September 7, 2016 - 6:34 pm

          I honestly don’t know the answer to your question, but as it is written above (descrete) could it be you were unable to find the word because it’s misspelled? (discrete) Just wondering…..

          • Tony -  October 5, 2016 - 7:18 am

            Hilarious. You saved me the trouble!

        • Dr A.J. Smith -  September 22, 2016 - 7:05 am

          Discrete is used to describe a circuit design that uses individual components, especially transistors, as apposed to integrated circuit chips (ICs), each containing multiple transistors.

          • R. F. Schroeder -  October 9, 2016 - 2:30 am

            Dr. A. J. Smith gives the correct and current understanding of “discrete” as used today.

          • JAY -  October 24, 2016 - 7:59 am

            wat up dooods

          • Chuck Brown -  November 19, 2016 - 10:58 am

            Jay said “wat up dodos.” Jay must be a loyal Trump supporter.

      • Matthew Bryan Gore -  September 1, 2016 - 3:04 pm

        Seriously, this is fascinates me. I think that the word ‘discretion’ is;similar to intention or ‘intension’ [See Hilary Putnam]. It implies something about engineering and the fashioning of state-of-the-art commodities, The idea of conduction of materials and the conduct of humans are good analogies with operatively portentous differences in spelling. The use of discreet things is generally more subjective and conducive to thought, unlike conduct which is discrete in its object. This is to say: Discreet things lack a formal quality of having relatedness; whereas, discrete things are relatively unqualified to share a form, and yet they are formally related to each other by their shared form. It is one of several peculiarities in semantics which adopts the homophone in order to communicate the meaningful intent of a word and the intention of a word’s meaning in provision of its spelling.

        • Alex -  September 4, 2016 - 8:12 am

          Matthew: your discretion is rather discreet; your intention quite intense. Thank you! :)

          • JAY -  October 24, 2016 - 7:56 am

            vrery interstiong annd i do n’t concore these ax of wrds i think that
            he shoul

        • Marci -  September 28, 2016 - 4:12 pm

          hehehehehe yes!

      • R.E. Gutierrez -  October 2, 2016 - 6:46 am

        You mean ‘discrete’ components (separate components, such as resistors and transistors)…as opposed to integrated circuits (IC).

      • Cat G -  November 20, 2016 - 11:53 am

        Discrete Devices
        A discrete device (or discrete component) is an electronic component with just one circuit element, either passive (resistor, capacitor, inductor, diode) or active (transistor or vacuum tube), other than an integrated circuit. The term is used to distinguish the component from integrated circuits and hybrid circuits, which are built from several circuit elements in one package. It typically refers to semiconductor devices.

        • Jim S Smith -  November 22, 2016 - 1:16 pm

          That’s the way I understood it, too.

          Being a big electronics hobbyist, I always understood “discrete” devices (or “components”) to mean exactly as you so excellently described, referring to “resistors”, “inductors”, “capacitors”, and the similar. I especially liked that you also included “hybrid devices” in your explanation.

          One could also conclude that LSI, VLSI, and all of their descendent devices (integrated circuits) are composed of multiple “discrete devices” inside of one package.

          • Bill Mullins -  November 26, 2016 - 4:02 am

            There is a world of difference between integrated circuit devices and hybrid devices. In the case of the latter you could pop the top of the case off and see several discrete components on a single substraite. There were also small scale integrated circuits on that substraite. Early on they could only implement transistors on silicon and at that only a few so they had to add discrete resitors etc. to implement the desired functionality. As technology advanced, they figured out how to fabricate other components on silicon. Modern printed circuit boards still have discrete components.

            Here’s a trivia question for you. Microelectronics pretty much began in the U.S. and was driven partly by NASA and the USAF. Why?

    • Lorene Albers -  October 3, 2016 - 1:08 pm

      Me too!!! So easy to get sidetracked by ‘words’.

    • Dave Sweat aka Smoov' D Sweat -  October 16, 2016 - 11:05 am

      Also, isn’t homophobe a pretty strong word to use just cuz someone’s vocabulary ain’t so hot? P.s. Still a fan, just feel that any hateful labels (byeitherside) distract & inflame in the long scheme…
      Respectfully yours,
      D Sweat

      • gray wilson -  December 11, 2016 - 1:29 am

        I think your being portentous D

        • gray wilson -  December 11, 2016 - 1:37 am

          Now I am (you’re).

      • gray wilson -  December 11, 2016 - 1:47 am

        I think you’re being portentous D

    • Heidi -  October 21, 2016 - 8:50 am

      I was thinking the same thing! Working on my screenplay! haha. but this article was too interesting not to read :)

      • JAY -  October 24, 2016 - 7:58 am

        vrery interstiong annd i do n’t concore these ax of wrds i think that
        she shouldd n evre wirt onn this pge agian its just very triumphant four u two tri

  10. peter levine -  August 13, 2016 - 8:58 am

    The ultimate discretion is when the spirit/soul is separated from the body. At that time none of our amusing comments will be very helpful.

    • Ehtisham -  September 26, 2016 - 3:00 am

      Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion. (Quran 3:185)

      • Jim S Smith -  November 22, 2016 - 1:19 pm



        This is NOT your Mosque, thank you very much. It is a place of learning the proper use of linguistics.

  11. Jennifer Heckert -  July 1, 2016 - 3:47 pm

    Please pardon the repetition and its own possibly resultant dejavu.

    Reading Steve’s post was rather like experiencing dejavu. If intended as satire, the post by Zabud was beautifully written. As is sometimes the case with satire, the discretion of its meaning can contribute both to its hilarity and effectiveness, as well as its discreteness. Furthermore, this discretion can be so exceptionally well done, it can lead one to wonder if the communication was indeed truly satirical in nature or if it was instead patent and without cunning.
    Well said, well noted, and both well complemented and well complimented.


  12. Lady F.P. -  June 28, 2016 - 9:25 am

    The article was informative, but the comments were so much more entertaining. I’ve wasted so much time reading them all, but it was worth the laugh. Now I must re-focus and get back to more productive endeavors.

    I just couldn’t resist leaving a comment of my own!

  13. GamerGRL69_ -  May 25, 2016 - 1:38 am

    Hey grls

  14. randee J -  May 9, 2016 - 4:07 am

    Clever way for you to remember, if you are married and discreetly seeing another woman on the side.

    • Astrochronic -  May 12, 2016 - 4:36 pm

      Discreet and discrete, mean the same thing. Always have, always will. To be discreet, is to keep your items/actions/thoughts (etc.), separated from others. To be discrete, is to keep your items/actions/thoughts (etc.), separated from others.

      Discretion is a noun with a verb connotation, discreteness is a noun with an adjective connotation.

      • Astrochronic -  May 12, 2016 - 4:37 pm

        if there is to be any discrete distinction of connotation, it is that discrete connotes distinction more so than discreet.

      • webster -  June 6, 2016 - 11:07 am

        Sorry but you are mistaken. “Discrete” is a common term in math and science has a precise objective mathematical meaning. “Discreet” is a subjective term used to describe how a person behaves. The two words have a common linguistic ancestry but in modern English are distinct words with distinct meanings.

        • Slavin Balen -  June 12, 2016 - 3:33 am

          Discrete Heads (Nakamichi tape decks)

        • John -  June 28, 2016 - 7:59 pm

          There is no reason for a word that means the same thing to be used for two different purposes just by ‘inventing’ a wrong spelling

          • Pete -  July 12, 2016 - 7:49 am

            So how exactly did the bulk of the English language come to be, then? ;)

          • gk -  August 20, 2016 - 11:04 pm

            Your comment is stupid. The two words do NOT mean the same thing. Discreet implies the showing of reserve and prudence in one’s behavior or speech. Discrete means something quite different: “distinct, separate, unrelated.” Examples. John chose to be discreet and not tell his wife about his night time activities. Light is quantized in discrete levels according e=hv.

          • Chris -  September 4, 2016 - 4:38 am

            Discrete, in electrical and electronics engineering speak relates to an electrical state. On/Off are the two discrete states of a light switch. A sensor detecting the presence of an object has two discrete states, On/Off or High/Low.
            As an engineer I use these words differently.
            Discretion: My son, I will leave this matter to your discretion. Conversationally and literally to mean “to use ones’ best judgment.”
            Discreet: Please be discreet with my financial disclosures. Of a secretive nature, not for publication or general use.

          • JBMoorpark -  September 16, 2016 - 12:30 pm

            I’m shore your rite, John. After awl, watt good is having too words that ken only be tolled apart buy they’re spelling? Eye gnu sum won wood straiten out this offal mess. The whirled kneads moor people like ewe, John.

        • Marian -  June 30, 2016 - 6:27 am

          Spot on!

      • John -  June 28, 2016 - 7:57 pm

        That is absolutely right!

    • Cat G -  November 20, 2016 - 11:55 am

      If you are seeing another woman on the side, she can be discreet and also be discrete. But only if you want her to be. ;)

  15. Zabud -  May 9, 2016 - 12:14 am

    I find it interesting that whenever there is discussion of a topic of or related to literacy there is never a lack of those who would search for faults in the grammar of others and somehow fell the need to comment on them in a tone that speaks of a sense of superiority whilst still trying desperately to hint as discretely as possible to the fact that they do not consider themselves in any way above those who they intend to educate or even abandoning their discreteness to outright state the fact, nor is there lack of those who will wish to expose all of those who arrogantly flaunt the higher knowledge, whether it be trough attacks on the mistakes of other or expression of opinion, biased or otherwise, ironically though for they themselves tend to write with airs of hypocritical arrogance. It is even more astounding to find those who suffer these attacks to be the first to rebuttal with comments of the same flamboyant and self indulgent nature, reducing what might have been an educational and enlightening experience of shared ideas that might rebirth a thirst for higher understanding in those who claim to have mastered the topic at hand and create a new found interest in those who would not have otherwise even considered it of any relevance to an exchange of witty remarks from two or more challengers competing for their claim to authority in the matter and accomplishing little. impressive as these confrontations are they hide beneath them a greater dilemma that rest within society as a whole, as some would blantly express, and emerging form the in the reasoning behind the standardization of a language as a means of better communication where thus surges the question at hand “If what i say or write does not follow the guidelines set by organizations of higher education in the grammatical structure with which it is presented but the recipient understands the idea being communicated in a form closer to the original than if it had been presented in a way that conforms to the stated guidelines or the structure is more appropriate to the context by the participants, what factors and or conditions should be taken into consideration and to degree as to condemn this use of language as correct or incorrect?” This is a topic that I myself would love to see taken to debate by knowledgeable individuals for it seems that to discuss it in its entirety one would have to take into consideration the need for shared information in communication as well as the ever evolving nature of language simultaneously even though the two points would seem to oppose one another in ways. For this blog in particular I can only say that I myself wish that those who participate in commenting would keep their minds set on the purpose of expanding their own knowledge as well as that of those with whom they share their ideas and orient the conversations into the further exposure of topics such as that which i have mentioned for it seems to me that it would befit an educational blog much better than the arrogant bickering that seems to plague almost all the comments sections of the internet. In any case, it would seem that a great deal of the aggression that is present here starts with people venting their frustration through their choices in vocabulary and those then others reading into those frustrations and reacting to them with anger instead of trying to understand the point of view of the writer and searching for the valid points that might lie beneath the passive aggressive comments and sometimes ridiculous attack, so try to keep to the latter of the options when reading this as well as the rest of the comments present if you wish to contribute to a more civil and pleasant discussion of the topics that might tickle your noggin.

    TL;DR: dont be a lil bitch when talkin about serious stuff, that way it will be better for everyone and u might accidentally learn something

    • actuallyreadthis -  May 9, 2016 - 9:04 am

      well, the problem is TL;DR, short attention spans, and egos. dumb people dont want to learn to read and write, and know it’s easier to just be understood. likewise, better writing takes too much effort to comprehend compared to layman. so my thought is that (subtracting the arrogant efforts of those that detract from the educational experience) a discrete system should be made for when through communications, the parties involved are aware at which the level of effort and expectations are for the work that may be involved trying to understand the material.

      for example, a 3 category system could look like

      1- you’re expected to have both a high school reading/writing level and understand idioms, and writings/readings are expected to be of formal nature

      2- all writings and reading comprehension is assumed as informal, conversational, and not including or expecting punctuations or correct grammar (including but not limited to slang, abbreviations, similar language).

      3- all conversation is expected to be documented as if being written for a novel, journal, or other government/academically approved publishable quality.


      • Tigerlord -  May 19, 2016 - 9:05 pm

        actuallyreadthis – Couldn’t disagree with you more, if I take your meaning correctly. The argument, “who cares as long as it’s understood,” is moot when you have to read a comment two, three, even four times or more to get the gist of it because it has no punctuation, no capitals, or commas (which, of course, IS punctuation, but they are so critical in conveying meaning that they should be in a class of their own). It’s maddening. I don’t mind reading a TL/DR comment if it is written where there is a very clear understanding of its point. But I don’t care how long or short a comment is – I’ve stopped reading comments with no punctuation. We have punctuation for a reason; because it helps (tremendously, in this writer’s opinion) us to convey meaning. If I have to sift through a stream of consciousness with no punctuation to gather the point of the post, then it isn’t really worth reading, at least to me, regardless of the profundity (or more likely the lack of profundity) of the comment.

        • Kuhio Kane -  June 3, 2016 - 2:12 pm

          conveying meaning is maddening to you if the conventions of syntax/lexicon is absent or poorly presented? Damn it, i knew i would love e e cummings beyond clarity even if the stars walk backwards and steven pinker, while observing the conventions of linguistic function dismisses the formality and false conceptions of style as being of great importance such as the MLA or APA etc. so often required by absolutist demagogues in university writing workshops

        • LC Robert -  June 4, 2016 - 5:37 pm

          Very well put. Just because someone has not learned how to use punctuation, or is too lazy to use it, doesn’t mean it is not useful in making written speach better understood.

          • David Thomas -  June 7, 2016 - 5:19 am

            “I find it interesting that whenever there is discussion of a topic of or related to literacy there is never a lack of those who would search for faults in the grammar of others and somehow fell the need to comment on them in a tone that speaks of a sense of superiority whilst still trying desperately to hint as discretely as possible to the fact that they do not consider themselves in any way above those who they intend to educate or even abandoning their discreteness to outright state the fact, nor is there lack of those who will wish to expose all of those who arrogantly flaunt the higher knowledge, whether it be trough attacks on the mistakes of other or expression of opinion, biased or otherwise, ironically though for they themselves tend to write with airs of hypocritical arrogance. ”

            That’s a remarkably long sentence, Zabud.

        • k8fearsnoart -  July 15, 2016 - 6:18 pm

          Never define a word simply by the context of a popular song. Musicians make mistakes too, and are not to be trusted to accurately use a word or phrase when writing lyrics; they often just need them to rhyme…

    • Zippstar -  May 13, 2016 - 5:12 am

      I take your point. My problem with those who simply spout, “what does it matter, as long as people understand?” is that it is our job, as writers, to make ourselves understood. When speaking, in conversation, we can clarify what we say if there is doubt; we can be questioned and thus eliminate any ambiguity however, a reader has no such opportunity for clarity.
      When I was at school, I did not learn English grammar a high degree and as a consequence, I found learning French difficult; how was I to superimpose a grammatical structure of one language onto another, when I didn’t know it? More recently, I have discovered a true love of language and have rediscovered English, despite it being my first language. I have found it increasingly difficult to read newspapers, for example, because, in general, they are written so badly. Often, I find myself reading backwards, because the sentence construction is so poor and there is an almost incessant use of the definite article in favour of pronouns. When somebody writes, for example, “the construction worker” part way through an article but no construction worker has been mentioned, I think that I have missed something and go back to seek that information. This becomes tiresome so, I stop reading. I can’t be bothered to decipher what has been written, it is easier to read a piece in a foreign tongue. In addition to such bad journalistic practice, often there is a clear distinction between what has been written and when is meant. This is fine when one intends to be ambiguous but when one is writing facts, when it is one’s job to communicate clearly and effectively, the expression “say what you mean and mean what you say” comes to mind.
      It is not our job, as readers, to translate what any writer has written in our own language, it is the task of the writer to make themselves understood, else what is the point of writing? When we speak, we speak to be understood, or we would remain silent, or talk only to ourselves. There is a difference between the spoken and written word and like any history, we must take care of both, for just as the parables, proverbs and old wives’ tales convey messages of great import, there is great history in our written words; they are the story of peoples and of culture and out link to our collective past and as my younger sister always said, “a Man with no past is like a tree without roots.”

      • Roger Caymin -  May 20, 2016 - 11:28 am

        The author’s responsibility is to be clear, only. If that is the case, it is then the reader’s sole responsibility to understand what the author wrote.

        • KED -  July 4, 2016 - 8:48 pm

          If by “clear” you mean well-defined and unambiguous, then I agree with you. Otherwise, I have no idea what you are trying to say.

      • Leros -  May 20, 2016 - 5:29 pm

        I also agree with you 100%. I don’t think you write funny, and my brain was soothed rather than taxed by what you wrote!. But, since we are all human, I like to believe that all writers be cut some slack with how well they communicate. That said, It’s with an air of levity that start by forgiving you. Here is an exerpt from your post:

        “…often there is a clear distinction between what has been written and when is meant.”

        Did you not mean ‘what’ instead of ‘when’?

      • Canyon_Dancer -  July 18, 2016 - 2:10 pm

        Thank you so much for stating your point so perfectly. I am not, by any means, a scholar in the field of our language or punctuation. I find myself increasing annoyed with the current state of our language and its descent into the gutter. With words like ‘flustrate’ , ‘conversate’, ‘prolly’, all I can think of is ignorance. My respect or belief in the statements made by those using these words turn off my attention to anything they say as being valid.

        The casual mispronunciation of words in a conversation is understandable as sometimes we think faster than we can speak and words can be jumbled. As parents or elders in a community/family we owe it to those around us to teach proper communication skills. How can we expect our children to do well in school if we, ourselves, cannot even speak properly or write a common sentence.

        Of course, this sort of comment is pretty much preaching to the choir.

        • Canyon_Dancer -  July 18, 2016 - 2:12 pm

          Yikes, make that “increasingly”.

      • geoff -  July 26, 2016 - 1:17 pm

        Shouldn’t your sentence read —

        More recently, I have discovered a true love of language and have rediscovered English, despite it being my first language. I have found it increasingly difficult to read newspapers, for example, because, in general, they are written so badly.


        More recently, I have discovered a true love of language and have rediscovered English, despite it being my first language. I have found it increasingly difficult to read newspapers, for example, because, in general, they are written so POORLY.

        Shouldn’t your grammar and spelling be correct if you are going to complain about the correct use of them?

      • CJ -  September 7, 2016 - 7:38 am

        Beautifully said, @Zippstar!
        “When we speak, we speak to be understood, or we would remain silent,”
        Oh, that sounds so good! I would like to apologize in advance, should I unconsciously plagiarize you during my writings.

        • Jonathan McMillan -  September 7, 2016 - 3:12 pm

          “Be though bagpype like; speak not till thou art full.” Alexander Duncan Fraser in “Some Reminiscences and the Bagpipe,” 1907 John Knox’s House.

    • Buford -  May 17, 2016 - 4:39 pm

      You write funny Mister, Its makin my brain hurt!

    • Sharad Dixit -  May 20, 2016 - 5:56 am

      @Zabud … In your first sentence you meant to spell feel but U spelled fell baaaaaaaaaahahahah …… [just kidding, just kidding, just kidding!!!] :) …. I agree with you 100%. I was just making a rhetorical, facetious play on ur comment. ;)

    • Steve -  May 20, 2016 - 4:06 pm

      Zabud, this is one of the best pieces of satire I’ve read in quite a while! It was good enough that I was a little worried toward the middle that you might actually be seriously using this means to express yourself, but you’ve made fun of both arrogance and excessively arcane language in a very memorable fashion. I may share this with my college-age son, who is a big fan of irony and satire. Thanks for the laugh!

      —- Steve

      • Jennifer Heckert -  July 1, 2016 - 3:44 pm

        Reading Steve’s post was rather like experiencing dejavu. If intended as satire, the post by Zabud was beautifully written. As is sometimes the case with satire, the discretion of its meaning can contribute both to its hilarity and effectiveness, as well as its discreteness. Furthermore, this discretion can be so exceptionally well done, it can lead one to wonder if the communication was indeed truly satirical in nature or if it was instead patent and without cunning.
        Well said, well noted, and both well complemented and well complimented.


    • Les Hoerwinkle -  June 12, 2016 - 2:24 pm

      You must be fun at parties.

    • Linda Kuehl -  July 15, 2016 - 11:30 am

      Hey Zabud, maybe you could discreetly separate paragraphs in your writing. I find 28 lines of small print paragraphs to show little descretion. Thanks..

      • Richard -  July 24, 2016 - 8:40 am

        Dear Linda,
        Cyberspace high-five and chest bump! = ) Precisely!

        • Martijn -  July 30, 2016 - 4:39 pm

          Luckily we do have people who are able to express themselves in clear, readable words with the aid of pictograms and who also persuade others to pay that extra effort to read their comments by showing their own enthousiasm.

        • linda kuehl -  August 11, 2016 - 6:20 am

          Richard, I will accept the high five but the chest bumps I have to decline- for my ample breasts may not indulge in such foreplay verbal or otherwise ouch! make that triple E ouch!!

    • Ang60 -  July 25, 2016 - 6:35 pm

      I so wanted to read your comment but I always find it difficult to read one long paragraph. I was just curious why you chose to write your comment in such a manner and hope you will explain please, not because I am a grammar Nazi or that I am implying you are linguistically challenged, rather I am just curious :)

    • Julia -  August 14, 2016 - 9:17 pm

      Don’t like full stops much?

    • JeanC Snyman -  August 15, 2016 - 6:59 am

      I love it when a mind such as yours unleashes its brilliance in total abandon! Thank you, kind human, for providing me with some entertainment this afternoon.

    • Threnody25 -  November 14, 2016 - 1:29 pm

      Hahaha! I love this. I shall now join in solidarity with those who would read the dictionary for fun :)

    • Dyablo -  November 20, 2016 - 9:15 am

      In promulgating your esoteric cogitations and articulating your superficial sentimentalities, beware of platitudinous ponderosity. Let your conversational communications possess a clarified conciseness and compacted comprehendedness, without all of that assinine side-tracking. Or, keep those sentences short.

    • Jim S Smith -  November 22, 2016 - 1:23 pm


      Would this not have been better placed on a personal blog somewhere else, rather than here, where it makes YOU look like you are also “puffing out your chest” in this perceived arrogance?

      - Just say’in!

  16. Camilliontwo1 -  April 25, 2016 - 6:44 am

    WOW – this is quite the blog!
    I have always tried to articulate my grammar with the correct morphology and syntax. I have discovered that unless I am speaking to someone with similar desires and education, the response is a blank stare because they do not want to acknowledge that they have no idea what I just said.
    The reality is that most people, even educated, really do not speak in this manner. I once had a supervisor (with an MBA) tell me after a lengthy discussion on employee training, that I need to “dumb it down” when speaking to employees. I believe that was his way of saying that he had no idea what I just said and was talking about – it’s not like I was using $10 words, just using phraseology or diction correctly that any 5th grader should understand.
    I believe that we as a society (USA) have lost the ability to speak in a manner that is simple. Today’s dialect leads to confusion and lack of context. Just listen to any politician!
    - Interestingly enough, the “Deadwood” series was set in a mining town that was not part of any U.S. state or territory in the post-Civil War years.
    Yet they spoke with such a deliberate diction that was grammatically correct and functional. There was little confusion (if any) and was very expressive and eloquent in sound.
    Example: I was truly impressed with how the word ‘reconnoiter’ was used and was understood by all. Great writing but I can’t imagine that they really spoke that way back then – If they did, then we truly have lost the art of speaking and communication in today’s world!
    Just my ‘two cents’.

    • Camilliontwo1 -  April 25, 2016 - 6:59 am

      I might add that yes, there was a lot of profanity used in the Deadwood series but even then it was used grammatically correct – after a quick research, I discovered that the language was actually ‘created’ by the series creator, David Milch.
      Had a bit of a ‘Shakespearian’ flare to it.
      Special note: I’m quite glad that we don’t speak in the old English tongue of the Shakespeare era!
      OK, I’m done!

      • Robert Cooper -  April 29, 2016 - 4:21 am

        Camilliontwo. Shakespeare neither spoke nor wrote in Old English. He wrote right at the end of the Middle English period (which had many dialects) but essentially he wrote in Modern English. That you might not immediately get it all is because you are reading transcripts of plays without the actions that bring them to life. Or you are reading rather intense sonnets, which require a poetic voice for appreciation. ‘Old English’ would probably not have made any more sense to Shakespeare than it does to you: it needs to be learnt as a language to understand it, and even then, many dialects existed which gave different meaning to words, pronounced words differently and wrote them very differently. The same is true of all languages.

        • Camilliontewo1 -  April 29, 2016 - 3:06 pm

          I was not aware that there actually was an ‘old’ or ‘middle’ English era.
          I learned something – Thank you!
          As to the many dialects of each language, I definitely agree.
          Amazing the difference between New York, Alabama, Texas and Minnesota natives.

      • lulu -  April 30, 2016 - 7:43 am

        I think you mean “it was used grammatically correctly”, not “grammatically correct.” You need an adverb there, hot shot.

        • Geydon -  May 7, 2016 - 10:52 am

          “…there was a lot of profanity used in the Deadwood series but even then it’s use was grammatically correct.”

          • Mary R. Lee -  May 10, 2016 - 4:28 am

            Its, not it’s.

          • Jazzlyn -  May 17, 2016 - 1:06 pm

            I love you guys’s wording of things. its quite endearing.

        • Tigerlord -  May 19, 2016 - 9:13 pm

          Wrong. “Yet they spoke with such a deliberate diction that was grammatically correct and functional.” This is grammatically correct, in both syntax and spelling. I write for a living and actually proofread my publisher’s editorials; and I have been a “word nerd” for as long as I can remember. That sentence is correct, if worded just a tad awkwardly. Don’t take my word for it. Check your ‘AP Style Guide.’

          • Woodsy -  May 25, 2016 - 7:12 pm

            Overlord, I think lulu was talking to Camilliontwo1.

          • Woodsy -  May 25, 2016 - 7:16 pm

            Excuse me. I meant Tigerlord

    • An -  April 25, 2016 - 9:32 am

      I find it humorous that you presume that people who respond to you with a “blank stare” and your “supervisor (with an MBA),” and more than likely, EVERYONE in general (because you appear to be “that” type) is too obtuse to understand your “phraseology or diction…that any 5th grader should.” Maybe they think you should “dumb it down” because you try too hard to impress everyone with what a tremendous command of the English language you have, but you’re actually coming across as a pompous know-it-all. Every consider that? (BTW, your comment wasn’t as well-written nor grammatically correct as you think.)

      • Camilliontewo1 -  April 29, 2016 - 3:01 pm

        Actually, I have considered that.
        However, I give EVERYONE the benefit of the doubt as to their education and knowledge and assume they are as smart or smarter than I am.
        And yes, I actually do speak that way without the desire to impress anyone.
        I would prefer to be not the smartest person in the room for the opportunity to learn something.

        In response to your comment:
        (BTW, your comment wasn’t as well-written nor grammatically correct as you think.) – All I can say is “If you understood what I wrote, then it was written well enough!!”
        Your response was a bit harsh, and the fact that I ‘appear to be that type” indicates that you tend to generalize people into groups rather than the individuals that they are.
        But, that’s OK – I don’t NEED to impress anyone.
        Or in your case, belittle and put down people just to self impress.

        • AzureHelios -  May 17, 2016 - 2:05 am

          Alas, I must convey that my similitude in saudade over your sesquipedalian, yet seeming soliloquy drives me to somnambule. Retrospectively, my remorseful repose restricts my respect of the renormative ruffians responsible.

          Efficiently, I endeavor to entreat each entrepreneurially engaged yet inept individual at their own level of speech, this leading gradually to increased understanding in the workplace.

          I know that feel, bro. People think I’m being a jerk often IRL because of the ways and forms I use in speech, but it’s really just because that’s how I was raised and/or in the interests of using more precise terminology, in contrast to the previous two paragraphs. :3

          • HaTaH -  September 28, 2016 - 5:39 pm

            Your use of alliteration eloquently rolls off my tongue when read aloud and spoken. The poetic connotation exposes an ambiguous understanding but makes more sense when put into context.

            Is either action permitted in my above comment ‘read aloud’ or ‘spoken’?
            Is there a better terminology for this action?

      • cdw -  June 7, 2016 - 7:15 pm

        “Twas Brillog, and the Slivy Toves did Jimber and wade” — from memory.

        • Jabberwocky -  September 8, 2016 - 1:11 am

          Also from memory: Open to corrections–Thanks! Enjoying this blog.


          ‘Twas Brillig, and the Slithy Toves
          Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
          All mimsy were the Borogoths,
          And the Momeraths outgrabe.

          “Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
          The jaws that bite, the claws that catch…
          Beware the jubjub bird,
          And shun the frumious battersnatch!”

          He took his vorpal sword in hand– Long time the maxome foe he sought;
          So rested he by the tumtum tree, and stood awhile in thought:

          “And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms, my beamish boy! Oh frabjous day, Calloo, Callay”, he chortled in his thought.

          Twas Brillig, and the slithy toves
          Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
          All mimsy were the Borogoths,
          And the Momeraths outgrabe.

          • Jabberwocky -  September 8, 2016 - 1:57 am

            That should have been “Jabberwock”, not “Jabberwork”. Isn’t there an edit function on here? A shame.

        • Jabberwocky -  September 8, 2016 - 1:55 am

          Oh, I left out:

          “And as in uffish thought he stood, the Jabberwork, with eyes of flame, came wiffling thru the tulgy wood, and burbled as it came:

          ‘One two, one two– and thru and thru!’ The vorpal blade went snickersnack, and with his head, he came gallumphing back.”

          Something like that… amazing I can remember what I learned as a child!

          • Dan -  November 24, 2016 - 5:24 am

            Borogoves, not Borogoths

            Bandersnatch, not Battersnatch

            Manxome, not maxome

            He left it dead, and with its head
            He went gallumphing back.

            A few other spelling variations, but overall pretty accurate.

            I memorized this in sixth grade, roughly 35 years ago, and it has never left my brain.

    • Amy M. -  May 5, 2016 - 9:35 am

      Indeed, we have lost the art of the English language, speaking and writing it, and much else as well. A recent study by IQ researchers indicates a 20 point reduction in G (general intelligence, or IQ) in the last 100 years. Haven’t you noticed how the public educational system keeps reworking all the standardized testing to increase the scores by effectively dumbing them down, over and over? Kids are graduating high school who have managed to remain illiterate despite 12 years of education. The general public reads at a fifth grade level. If you ever read classic literature from a century ago or more, the difference is shocking. The most shocking thing to me is reading the casual letters of people from that time period. Letters from soldiers writing home from the Civil War sometimes read like poetry; college English majors today could not write like that and probably would have trouble reading it. These men were not necessarily especially educated. Writing of the past was an altogether different experience. The paragraphs were longer, the sentence structures longer and more complex, the vocabulary much, much more varied and advanced, the word usage fluid and nuanced, skilled and eloquent. Books were written at what we would consider the college and graduate level; people rose to the challenge of reading what these brilliant authors wrote. Nowadays, in the interest of profit, publishers cater to the lowest common denominator. They discovered that people enjoy reading material that is a grade level or two below their ability because it is easy, so they have their authors write in this manner, and this is why the books get dumber and dumber and now tere is no difference between “young adult” books and “adult” books in many cases as far as the language level goes. This also explains the raging popularity of YA series like “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” among adults. As for speaking and communication- the younger generations now use only letters to communicate: lol, brb, ttl, omg, r u ok, etc. due to the deleterious and toxic advent of texting. Attention spans and IQs are eroding in quicktime and the “powers that be” are doing exactly the opposite of anything helpful or constructive to address the situation. They would rather bury it under the rug and contribute to the problem with Common Core and by giving all students laptops so they can sit in class and use Snapchat and Instagram all day. There are peer-reviewed studies showing how destructive this is to the mind, but since when do politicians let a little thing like “reality” get in the way of their agendas? God forbid they ever be proven wrong. Bottom line- pay attention to history. We absolutely HAVE lost the art of speaking, writing, and communication in today’s world, and we have lost a lot more than that. We have also lost a great degree of politeness, civility and manners, which hold a civilization together, but that is another story.

      • Ei -  May 5, 2016 - 7:24 pm

        Just a quick remark, i have seen this in old books. The fullformat text cracks into sections viewed at right angle or maybe its the wrong angle?

      • Camilliontewo1 -  May 6, 2016 - 7:34 am

        Very, VERY well written and expressed.
        You are 100% correct (in my opinion) and unfortunately it will continue to decline.
        And then there are those that will probably pick your reply apart as well -sigh.

        • Camilliontwo1 -  May 6, 2016 - 7:37 am

          That’s weird – not sure where the ‘e’ came from – guess I didn’t check.

      • Frank -  May 31, 2016 - 5:22 pm

        Sorry to get off-topic, but isn’t “young adulthood” just the earlier part of adulthood? It contains the word “adult” in it, so wouldn’t that rhetoric (pun intended) make a young adult more discrete than it really is from the rest of the adult populace?

        Something (again, another pun!) that isn’t so discreet. LOL

      • Elizabeth -  June 10, 2016 - 6:47 am

        Amy M.:
        May I use your post in my classroom for discussion? I can tweak the topic to create a persuasive essay prompt for my students. (Plus, your post reiterates some of my thoughts when my high school students want to read HANK THE COWDOG. (I don’t mind using children’s literature for certain points, and I have heard that HANK THE COWDOG series has excellent themes, but that is not what I am focusing on here.) Please let me know if I have your permission to use your post.

      • Atroa -  June 10, 2016 - 10:23 am

        Dear Amy M,
        Your comments are refreshing. They are the first I have read on this site as of 2016-06-10T16:13:00 UTC that approach correct English. Clearly you have a good command of American flavoured English.
        You, however, trip in the sentence that ends with ‘trouble reading it’ since ‘it’ has no antecedent. ‘Them’ would have been the likely nail on the head. Consider your ‘it’ more carefully for it has an implied ‘p’ before it into which you plentifully and perilously fall!
        Is it not the case that all previous writers of whatever magnitude have used only letters to communicate? Have you forgotten the expression ‘I am a (man/woman/person) of letters’? So why castigate the moderns for their use of only letters? Did you mean ‘consonants’?
        Nowadays, of course, it’s true that many do use abbreviation, contraction, acronym, or initialism to, among other things, save typing and sensibly remain within the tight SMS or Tweet or other limit and communicate, more or less privately, within their own clique. However, is such usage matter for deprecation or presentation as the source of language decline when it is clearly an advanced language ability? To prove this suppose you tackle a new language. You learn the basics very well till you have a firm grasp. Now you think “I shall send a text in ‘short-word’” in my fresh, new language which happens to be Arabic. This language script, along with all related languages, has no written vowels. Its script has already been reduced to consonants! Clearly you would have to know such a language extremely well and very deeply to accomplish a task which you believe to be deleterious to language usage.
        Still, despite my carping, you have a valid point. Language grasp, usage, value has seriously declined. Kudos to you for pointing this out.

      • Anthony uppall -  August 30, 2016 - 3:49 pm

        People can not easily read 100+ year old text as language changes. Context ,situational and historic awareness is not the same today as it was during the usa civil war. English has no governing body it will change is changing and has changed. Do you listen to rap just because you do not understand it does not mean it is failing to communicate. Studies show and have shown that you must adapt or die. Maybe just maybe you have LOST the ability to understand and every student is communicating fine but you just no longer speak the language and are quickly being left behind. for sure for sure i have no idea what the young folks are on about but not for a sec do i think they are dumber than we were at their age.

      • Jabberwocky -  September 8, 2016 - 1:43 am

        (Oh my, how did my name become Jabberwocky, just because I recited it? Whoops! Welcome to the computer age!)

        Anyway, Amy, I quite agree with you. I am so tired of correcting people in their use of “lie vs. lay”, for example; when I go to the hospital, and someone says, “Now lay down”. But that’s a trivial matter, i suppose. Basically, I am tired of miscommunications and people avoiding me, because I use what is to them, arcane language. (However, I do have problems with commas: Someone correct that last sentence? Thanks.) I do note that when I went to school– oh, a long long time ago– there were such things as language drills and spelling bees. Hardly any one seems to know anything about syntax and grammar, nowadays. I recently took a writing course, for example, and was told to use only “said” (or “asked”?) in dialogue, as the modern mind could not read a longer word used in conversational fiction! “How could this be”, I wondered. “What about the classic literature?” Well, that is a perfect example of what I should not be writing, were I to write fiction.

        As to the influence of computers, I am lately come to the world of texting. I find it convenient to use in some situations. However, its form is replete with miscommunication when trying to convey subtle meanings.

    • Fred -  May 10, 2016 - 10:24 am

      From the limited reading I have done of writings from past authors of the time periods you mentioned, back to early American in the Revolutionary War and Civil War, the English language seemed to be much more eloquent and the vocabulary of the writers much more extensive than what the average American today has. Again, this is based on the writers of those times, not really the average person living at that time. But I see the same difference when comparing the writers of that time to the writers of today. I like the old style better.

    • linda kuehl -  August 11, 2016 - 6:32 am

      It would be really fun to be a fly on the wall of your bedroom during foreplay and penetration- to hear your lexicon of words- to hear you utter correct grammar and to hear any of the sexually induced profanities- What is a typical make out session word-wise for you? Or for any of our myriad of readers- Thank you for indulging my curiosity as I can’t help but wonder if folks in ‘bed’ who are more eloquent verbally than the rest of us, speak differently?.

  17. Widie tpq -  April 4, 2016 - 8:20 pm


    • Joe P. -  April 10, 2016 - 12:01 pm

      No movement of puzzle pieces. Perhaps
      the water at the bottom right of the screen is playing tricks with your brain? The only difference I notice is a change of boldness in some of the puzzle lines,

  18. Optical -  March 10, 2016 - 1:32 pm

    The puzzle pieces in the picture seem to slowly be moving to the right.

    • Rich -  March 15, 2016 - 2:46 pm

      Can I have what you’re having?!

    • jerry o -  March 26, 2016 - 5:44 am

      This whole thread is an illustration of why we are the #1 consumers of DRUGS in the WORLD. My cat has no skills in grammar, spalling, very little vocabulary (meey youw (did I spall it rite?) hisss, screech, and ever popular and most important ppuuurrr. With that, a few gestures, and of course eye contact we communicate perfectly in a binary format, it’s either this or that which leads to either this or that….fractally can express the construction of a mailbox, bird house….we’ve done it several times..jus kiddn, jus sayn,,omg the drama, the d r a m a, the horror

      • Oran -  April 8, 2016 - 5:44 pm

        hahahahaha you funny

    • Génesis -  March 28, 2016 - 11:24 am

      Once you pay attention to the image, they actually do!

    • Oran -  April 8, 2016 - 5:45 pm

      Yeah.. you guys hi

    • Robert Cooper -  April 29, 2016 - 4:25 am

      No they’re not. They are definitely moving to the left. If I open this piece again, I’m sure they’ll be gone.

  19. zeezee -  February 10, 2016 - 5:14 pm

    Cracker Jacks !!!


  20. Mohammad Umair -  January 27, 2016 - 9:56 pm

    The best way to remember the difference in meaning and usage is to keep in mind the position of alphabet “E” in the spelling.

    Discrete means unrelated or separate. The two Es are separated by “T”

    Discreet means to reserve (or in an way hold together one’s composure) so the two Es are together in the spelling.

    • Dean Nichols -  January 29, 2016 - 3:24 pm

      Excellent mnemonic device.

      • JB Kleven -  February 18, 2016 - 10:28 pm

        He used his art of discretion to determine in to tig weld the piece or mig weld it, yet he was discreetly proud of the Union.

        • buffy dewitt -  March 3, 2016 - 10:53 am

          “Discreet has yielded the noun discretion, but discrete‘s noun form is discreteness.” I think you meant, “He used his art of DISCRETENESS to determine in to tig weld the piece or mig weld it, yet he was discreetly proud of the Union.” No?

        • Rondar -  March 13, 2016 - 4:14 am

          I hadn’t heard of tig welding. It’s good to know.

    • stop the debate -  February 5, 2016 - 9:07 am

      whats this whole big debate about, i mean its just two words cumon guys serciouly you don’t have to get so worked up about two words common words

      • ChrisD -  March 2, 2016 - 5:13 am

        Excellent comment coming from someone who can’t spell or use punctuation or grammar correctly.

        • Lynn M -  March 5, 2016 - 7:21 am


        • Sarah Fire -  March 13, 2016 - 1:44 pm

          I am reticent to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to insulting other people in any online forum where we use our relative anonymity as an excuse for being coarse or rude… Having said that, I am totally perplexed when I stumble across comments that are pretty much indecipherable if one were to apply the rules of orthography and grammar in accordance to the fundamental guidelines of the English language as I understand them. “Cumon guys serciouly” (sic) is a quote that I will never forget. It sounds like the name of a recipe. I’m also tickled by the title “stop the debate” as if the relatively mundane discussion about homophones was becoming so heated as to require an intervention. Serciouly. Finally, what confuses me the most is the fact that such a poorly written comment would appear on a website dedicated to language, populated by a self-selecting population of logophiles in a discussion about two obscure homophones…
          Oh, what a world.
          PS- I don’t claim to be any smarter or more educated than any other person commenting in this forum. Furthermore, I am sure there are a number of grammatical errors in my own comment and I encourage people to tear it apart if they have are so inclined. I would enjoy the constructive criticism. For instance, was I supposed to capitalize “English” in that circumstance? Thanks!

          • Jim -  March 20, 2016 - 12:16 am

            Apparently this comment section is for those highly intellectual individuals who are mentally and educationally discrete from the rest of us mentally and socially inferior beings. I stand in awe of you’re total understanding of orthography and I thank you for allowing me the privilege of using this dictionary to better my understanding of our mother tongue.
            “Cumon guys” is really not a word found in the dictionary nor is it a recipe. Rather it is a vernacular expression, “the plain variety of language in everyday use by ordinary people” of which you apparently distain. I believe you may be a Snob.”one who despises those considered inferior in rank, attainment, or taste.”
            As the saying goes, Get A Life!!

          • jerry o -  March 26, 2016 - 5:23 am

            this entire thread is glimmering with brilliance. highly intelligent, or highly educated, or something, people with comments if made into a movie would illustrate a perpetual cycle story puppy Fido Castro chasing it’s tale around in a whirlwind tryig to show off to it’s master to get food. “SEE what I can do…I need attention” “SEE what $100,000 university fees have done to me” Aerosmith “Rag Doll”: “SLO Gin fizzie ,,,,do it till your dizzy…. give it all you got ’till ur out of your mizery” eh? DId I spall that rite? it aint in the dictionary. I don’t mean to sound cynical, sarcastic, indifferent, cruel, what i’m trying to say is: I see the importance of vocabulary to adequately express one’s self; let’s say like a detailed owner’s manual of a new high tech, toy (which Can’t we all agree is as confusing as, for no better term, Chinese Math?). YOU & ALL (southern colloquial=youal) don’t need to subscribe to dogma, proprietorial confusion to seem to self (ego) to be special, hierarchyial (sp) king-of-the-hillish….you are already are, so much more unique in ways u most assuredly yet to understand. Is it really necessary to wear a tuxedo to a Tennis match? This epiphany made it’s appearance in a profound way into “my life?” when simply out of boredom, curiosity, & drive to convey, & incorporate “greater truths, beauty, etc” into my ARTistic endeavors. I READ “A NEW EARTH” Tolle.. For GOD’s sake, heave fun by all means, but understand your own psychology, ego, rise above to LOVE as it arrives on its own …love jerry

          • Olivia -  March 27, 2016 - 4:48 pm

            You were supposed to capitalize “English”, by the way. Good job.

          • James E -  March 28, 2016 - 8:21 pm

            “cumon guys” is not the vernacular wannabe that you envision, Jim. To be accurate, it is spelled “c’mon guys”. I am reluctant to express the true meaning of “cumon guys”.

          • Mark -  April 8, 2016 - 10:33 am

            1) I believe that Sarah Fire got the reaction she desired.
            2) You pushed one of my buttons Jim: “I stand in awe of you’re total understanding …” You used the contraction for “you are” instead of the possessive “your”. Oddly, I usually see it the other way around. I’m just a-sayin’…

          • stacey -  April 18, 2016 - 11:01 am

            ” and I encourage people to tear it apart if they have are so inclined”.
            (sic). WOW! How grammatically incorrect you are. It is impolite to criticize others and it is especially rude to do so in a condescending manner. It’s comical that a self righteous critic is such an enormous target of grammatical errors. What baffles me is your invitation to “tear” your comment apart. I find this to be more of a psychological matter.

          • Chu kie -  April 30, 2016 - 10:11 pm

            Sarah Fire – I love you.

          • L.G. Pahl -  May 24, 2016 - 5:25 pm

            I love you, too.

        • Gina -  March 30, 2016 - 10:25 am

          I am always open to learning something new and I learned something with the above discussion.
          It is sad that we cannot discuss a topic with interest, with “get a life”. I have life a very good and intersting life, mostly because I have an open mind. I’m elderly, and I feel new experiences and discussions keep my mind bright.

          • g.e. -  April 7, 2016 - 2:29 pm

            Whether spelled in the standard way or as “cumon” or “c’umon,” isn’t it pronounced the same way? Otherwise, isn’t it just an example of “eye dialect,” like “wimmin” instead of “women”? Such irritating misspellings by writers in quotes make speakers sound uneducated (or as using non-standard language) when everybody is pronouncing a word the same way.

        • Gina -  March 30, 2016 - 10:27 am

          You said it well,

    • Eileen -  February 6, 2016 - 11:17 pm

      very clever, thank you Mohammad

    • anjani Kher -  February 11, 2016 - 9:06 am

      Very useful and creative explanation

    • jan -  February 14, 2016 - 5:16 am

      that is forever stuck in my memory, thanks Mohammed!

    • John -  February 28, 2016 - 10:56 pm

      Kudos! Amazing mnemonic!

    • theirthere -  March 2, 2016 - 5:26 am

      I cherish (and collect) mnemonics that work and Mohammad’s does work (for me). Thanks much!

    • Lrand -  March 2, 2016 - 8:21 am

      Love it–thank you!

    • PJVitkus -  March 4, 2016 - 7:06 am

      Good point, Mohammad.

    • Ruby -  April 6, 2016 - 8:54 pm

      Excellent way to remember!

    • An -  April 25, 2016 - 9:46 am

      Great memory aid! Thanks!

  21. Julienne -  January 15, 2016 - 6:17 am

    discret means something quite different unrelated. So the sinonyms are distinct or separate. When we say about discretee, it’s a noun of disrete but it is not ualways heared. English history habitually uses in for the accounter.

    • Optical -  March 10, 2016 - 1:34 pm

      Can you repost that so we actually understand what you’re saying? The spelling is quite confusing.

      • Sharad Dixit -  May 20, 2016 - 6:14 am

        LMFAO!!!!! Oh god, this is my entertainment for the day!!!! Thanks Y’all for making me laff, oops laugh!

    • Daz -  March 23, 2016 - 7:35 am


  22. Roger Jones -  November 24, 2015 - 4:45 pm

    “I have several discreet matters to discuss with you.
    Each must be handled in a totally discrete manner.”

    In these two sentences, the meaning is thus:
    “I have several secret matters to discuss with you; and each must be handled separately.”

    If we reverse the two homophones: “I have several discrete matters to discuss with you. Each must be handled in a totally discreet manner.”

    The meaning of each sentence is changed, but, surprisingly, the meaning of the paragraph is not.

    discreet: Secret, secretive, discretion
    discrete: separate, totally different

    • Monica Krasniak -  November 26, 2015 - 7:46 pm

      Quite astute or An astutely formed trick statement. Which is it? ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! J/J

      • Evelynrose -  December 31, 2015 - 2:10 pm

        I certainly have learned the difference between discrete and discreet. This site is very helpful and ADDICTIVE. I started out looking up one word and stayed for hours. The contributors all sound like great folks with wonderful and sometimes, wry senses oh humor,( with a few inevitable hypersensitive ones that can’t wait to find something offensive to them and then to rail about it in a “holier than thou” way. Oh well, ’tis the world we live in. I do have a question totally unrelated to grammar. As I read the posts, the dates confuse me. The conversations are flowing, and I wonder how this can be, when the dates double back. I don’t know how to explain it. Look for yourself if you give a darn. Is it magic, a hallucination,or is it obvious and I’m too stupid to get it?

        • Bob -  January 10, 2016 - 1:45 pm

          Evelynrose – It does look a little odd as you scroll through these. Let me offer a thought…

          Look at the *indentation* of each of the posts.

          The most “outdented” seem to be presented newest to oldest. (Those with the text and Reply button at the left edge of the page.)

          Those indented (the replies) seem to be presented oldest to newest. That applies to the posts at the same *level* of indentation.

          This post, for example is a reply, to your reply, which is a reply to a post. 3 or 4 levels in depending on how you count.

          I recognize this from programming/software as a tree of sorts. See “Tree_(data_structure)” in Wikipedia. Having spend much of my career looking a *data structures*, this is a familiar concept.

          At the risk of exhausting you, the most “outdented” comment might be considered *comments* on the original article posted September 4, 2014. Anything indented is a reply to a comment, or a reply.

          (We) Software Engineers are a strange lot…

        • Fayreemary -  January 13, 2016 - 12:53 am

          e.g.: I will follow Bob under Evelynrose if I reply. If I comment, I’ll lead the pack until someone new comes along. But here, Bob will always lead the pack.

          • Confused -  January 15, 2016 - 4:04 am

            I am reading this thread.. and it is very confusing. I am female. I am who I say I am. There are people playing mind games and messing with responses and my computer. I don’t really understand a lot of things and a lot of things I learn I soon forget. Memory recall is a problem of mine. I just sometimes know how to work with information given intuitively. When there is either separateness or anything left out, not all the information is there in order to make a better response to a situation. I am both smart and not so smart like my father. It’s almost like he is brilliant but with a blanket. The brilliance comes out in unexpected ways. People like this need help to piece things together. I hate politics.. I hate religion.. most organized groups. In order to be whole.. one must separate from the separate and be all. Yes.. I make random comments that dont make sense? I try to love.. but I need to be loved in order to continue loving. I am finding it very hard to get any love in return. Love comes in different forms and we need all forms. I’m tired of people telling me I only need one kind of love. sigh.. Im so tired trying to make sense of things and trying to explain things that I cant not for the life of me explain.

          • Linda bishop -  February 1, 2016 - 11:02 pm

            ‘but’ is a conjunction. It can be used after a comma, ‘but’ not after a full stop. A new sentence should never begin with a conjunction. The most commonly missused conjunction is ‘and’ which again should join two parts of a sentence instead of a full stop, not as well as a full stop.

          • Linda bishop -  February 1, 2016 - 11:22 pm

            ‘but’ is a conjunction. It can be used instead a comma ‘but’ not after a full stop. A new sentence should never begin with a conjunction. The most commonly missused conjunction is ‘and’ which again should join two parts of a sentence instead of a comma though never after a full stop.

        • Thomas Hanson -  January 26, 2016 - 7:10 am

          Do you mean like: “Are you all whited sepulchers?”

          • Amateur -  April 28, 2016 - 2:11 pm

            You can start a sentence with a conjunction. And some of the best writers in the world do it.

    • Sean G -  December 5, 2015 - 3:00 am

      Simply remember that the words “separate” and “discrete” end with the letter “e”.

      Use whichever word association works best for you… with “discreet”, you could pair secret, silent, covert, etc.

      Other words you can associate with “discrete” are: differentiate, diverse, unlike, deviate, etc. etc.

      • Ann Y. -  December 15, 2015 - 9:18 am

        Or you could just think of the two e’s in discrete as being “separated.”

        • Cecelia Vanier -  December 28, 2015 - 7:32 pm

          That’s exactly how my brain filed it away: the two e’s in dicrete are separated from each other.

      • Letoria -  January 19, 2016 - 7:55 pm

        Sean G — that’s an excellent mnemonic: “Discrete means separate, and they both end in “e”. I use both words fairly often, and for some reason I simply cannot remember the spelling without looking them up. Your suggestion solves the problem for me.

      • Gina -  March 30, 2016 - 10:30 am

        Thank you! That is a very good way of remembering the difference between the two!

    • Satyan -  December 14, 2015 - 12:53 am

      Although the doctor detected discrete symptoms of the dreaded disease, he was discrete about it while counseling the child’s parents.

      • Satyan -  December 14, 2015 - 12:56 am

        Wrong; he was ‘discreet’ about it while counseling……

        • Cecelia Vanier -  December 28, 2015 - 7:35 pm

          Unless he counselled the parents separately.

          • adrea -  January 2, 2016 - 8:21 am

            No then it would be discretely counselled the parents. he cannot be seperated…..but the parents can!

          • Nik -  February 29, 2016 - 4:36 pm

            Like, maybe he was conjoined twins and one of him counseled one parent and one the other?

  23. Richard Martin Attridge ll -  November 20, 2015 - 1:56 pm

    A lot of you were making entirely way too much sense. All of you had good points,some more than others but still very good arguments. I enjoyed all of your comments.
    slainte Mhath!

  24. Reynaldo M. Gimena -  November 14, 2015 - 10:33 pm

    What letter in the alphabet can change a male to become a female?

    • Andrew Wilson -  November 16, 2015 - 7:15 pm

      Y, that’s easy haha.

      • guangwei -  November 25, 2015 - 1:21 pm

        s, when you add s to “he”, you get “she”. s can change he to she, s can change a male to a female.

        • Vern -  December 3, 2015 - 8:34 am

          “R” makes he into her!

    • soonkun kang -  November 22, 2015 - 8:43 pm

      Am anxious to know the answer to the question. Thanks.

    • George Tutt -  November 27, 2015 - 12:32 am

      An “x”, with male genes being xy and females xx.

    • J buksa -  December 5, 2015 - 9:01 pm

      First of all it is “which” letter, not “what” letter. The answer would be the letter “s”.

      • Jake -  December 9, 2015 - 12:22 pm

        If you are gong to be precise about other people writing, you should also be precise about your own writing. You have made two errors, the first is using would in your statement. It should simply be; the answer is the letter “S.”

        Second, it is not a discrete answer, there are at least two, R and S, X if you consider chromosomes.

        • Jim -  January 9, 2016 - 10:04 pm

          R doesn’t really work because he = male and her = belonging to female, so not exactly a female. X requires the deletion of Y and the addition of another X, so there is two changes involved. Therefore, the only correct answer is S.

          • Nightowl223 -  January 31, 2016 - 3:02 am

            The word “her” does not always mean “belonging to a female.” What of the sentence, “I like her” or the sentence “Should we hire her?” In neither sentence is your assertion correct, as R works very well in them.

            Certainly S is more often able to change the gender of the word “he” to mean female, but R definitely does the trick sometimes. ;-)

        • Frank -  February 5, 2016 - 7:11 am

          The letter “S” is the only one that can be added without having to change other elements of the sentence. The “X” and “Y” answer is clever but has nothing to do with phonetics. The “R” answer does not work as “her” would correlate to “him” or “his” depending on the rest of the sentence, so you aren’t simply adding a letter, you are reconstructing the entire sentence. Only “S” can be added without requiring additional modification to the sentence.

          • Kat Mac -  February 19, 2016 - 5:49 pm

            I like the Y (from XX XY) answer best!
            If Reynaldo’s post was meant as a “riddle” then that’s probably the “answer” as it’s more literal, and not about the actual letters.

            I’ll be trying to think of other examples, all night,now.

            The letter “e” changes the gender of “Fiancée”(female), to “Fiancé”(male), when omitted.
            The letter “i” in Francis can be replaced with letter “e” to make the female name, Frances
            Changing the “i” in him, to the letter “e” makes the feminine, “her”.

      • flazelight@gmail.com -  January 9, 2016 - 10:42 am

        Actually “what” is fine here. ;-)

    • Stephen -  December 20, 2015 - 6:19 am

      Well the HEATHEN are all the males in the nation and a HERTHEN are all the females in a nation.

    • wyrmfed -  February 1, 2016 - 2:46 am

      An answer could also be the letter N, HE becomes a HEN.
      The removal of N also works, MAN becomes MA.
      Fun riddle, it must have many answers.

  25. Reynaldo M. Gimena -  November 14, 2015 - 10:27 pm

    My oh my ????? And everyone asking why WW2 happened. Discreet and discrete only ? We have Mr. Webster to blame for future WW. Smile people:)

    • Thomas Scott -  May 25, 2016 - 1:32 am

      What is wrong with you Reynaldo

  26. Jack W5TFB -  October 1, 2015 - 9:14 am


  27. juju -  September 28, 2015 - 8:16 am

    These comments are unbelievably entertaining! I would recommend this book to all of you:

    Eats, Shoots, and Leaves

    • Frank -  November 10, 2015 - 6:09 am

      stfu this isn’t a place for you. Me and my hairy chest are worth more than you and your hairless chest. thats why im a middle school teacher

      • Miles -  November 15, 2015 - 7:54 pm

        Yo, homie! Chillll…

      • Thomas Scott -  May 25, 2016 - 1:33 am

        Jesus Frank you really showed him

    • Square -  November 26, 2015 - 10:15 pm

      Juju was a man who thought he was a loner, but he knew it couldn’t last…

    • David -  January 2, 2016 - 6:00 pm

      Eats, shoots and leaves…

  28. Martin -  September 15, 2015 - 6:15 pm

    I wouldn’t want everyone in the STREET to know that I’d not been very DISCREET.

    • Pika -  September 24, 2015 - 12:08 pm

      *applauds* That was amazing.

    • Aunt Bea -  November 8, 2015 - 2:59 pm

      If you want to share with me the state of DISCRETE in your life,
      in terms of disseminating such information, I would be utterly DISCREET.

  29. jake -  September 8, 2015 - 6:52 am

    which is correct ?digitalize or digitize

    • Jack W5TFB -  October 1, 2015 - 9:06 am

      Definitely digitize.

      • Robert Byrne -  October 31, 2015 - 10:36 am

        To digitalize something is to make “finger-like” communication.

        • px fragonard -  November 7, 2015 - 1:38 pm

          This often happens when driving.

        • Letoria -  January 19, 2016 - 8:02 pm

          In medicine, to “digitize” someone is to initiate therapy with the drug Digoxin.

  30. howtodo -  June 13, 2015 - 4:09 am

    you used sometimes Latin English,then about your brief details i don’t understand. I understood average tv & movies…

  31. Elaine Jenks -  June 9, 2015 - 3:27 pm

    Discrete and Discreet are unrelated words, each with a separate meaning. Discrete is the opposite of concrete, using two latin prefixes with opposite meanings.
    Concrete is something that is hard, solid, indestructible, such as a
    concrete road, a concrete opinion, concretions of lime upon the sea
    Discrete is something that is not solid, not well-defined, falling to pieces; like crumbly bread, loose gravel on the road, public opinion, the Congress.

    If people are not discreet in their pronouncements, the government may become discrete.

    “Discretion” is usually used of “discreet”.
    “Dis-accretion” is used of “discrete”.

    • Taha -  June 11, 2015 - 5:30 pm

      I really like your comment. It is informative and elegant.

    • Denelle -  August 4, 2015 - 10:29 am

      Beautifully explained and illustrated!

    • hellzwells -  August 9, 2015 - 5:36 am

      very good, despite the unnecessary political commentary.

      • Rose Ann -  September 9, 2015 - 1:32 pm

        The political analogy-not commentary- was, in fact, very appropriate.

        • carol -  September 16, 2015 - 9:37 am

          Absolutely! “You will eat the fruit of your lips.” Proverbs 18.20

      • Jan -  September 17, 2015 - 1:39 pm

        I thought the political commentary was good humor. I laughed.

        • Jan -  September 17, 2015 - 1:42 pm

          Yes, correct. Analogy, not commentary. Still funny!

          • Oragix -  October 7, 2015 - 3:07 pm

            Actually, there is a political commentary just before the analogy (Discrete is something that is not solid, not well-defined, falling to pieces; like crumbly bread, loose gravel on the road, public opinion, the Congress.)

      • Roger Smith -  November 4, 2015 - 9:58 pm

        It is more of an analogy than commentary. It is only commentary insofar that it comments of the nature of the principles of res publica and res privata, the difference between public and private affairs. As you can tell by the Latin, this goes back to the Roman empire, and is less “political commentary” than it is a comment on politics in the most general fashion- that is, a comment on its function. It’s like saying that if a dog loses all its hair, exposing its skin to the air, it will get cold in the winter. Sure, it’s a comment, but as a statement of fact it is not what has conventionally been termed “commentary”.

        • Terminus Bibby -  December 4, 2015 - 5:17 pm

          Ah, a pedant of the of the most pedantic type. Thanks for that; we all were in need of a good mental thrashing.

      • px fragonard -  November 7, 2015 - 1:42 pm

        It’s not that it’s unnecessary. It’s inaccurate. The Congress is designed to “fall apart” and the fallapartness, to coin a term, is not only intended but very well defined in the Constitution, to wit, elections held every two and six years, &c.

      • Aunt Bea -  November 8, 2015 - 4:57 pm

        There was NO political commentary in there. If so, from what point of view? I can’t discern it, and you can’t discern where I’m coming from. I think we need to save political commentary for things that truly defend or tear down our values. This was just an analogy, and written very well at that.

    • gilbert hill -  August 10, 2015 - 11:10 pm

      If one used either of the words discreet or discrete there would be little difference. That is unless there is a difference in the definition. Can you make clear the difference in these two words? you really were not very clear about the meanings of these words (they are spelled slightly different; therefore must have a distinct meaning).

      • Kristi -  September 26, 2015 - 10:56 pm

        Discreet means being somewhat secretive, not obvious.
        Discrete means there are two or more separate parts, like water (H20) is made up of two discrete elements, hydrogen and oxygen.

        • Terminus Bibby -  December 4, 2015 - 5:20 pm

          Lovely.Thank you, Kristi, for that oh-so-precise and perfect descrtion!

          • Terminus Bibby -  December 4, 2015 - 5:22 pm

            Sir: Please type more carefully. We are shocked and upset by typos here.

      • Letoria -  January 19, 2016 - 8:13 pm

        Here’s a medical analogy. When analyzing a mammogram, the radiologist is looking for “discrete” anomalies, i.e. an abnormality which stands out from the normal tissue. Any such irregularity must be discussed discreetly with the patient.

    • Geoffrey -  August 12, 2015 - 7:39 am

      This doesn’t seem right to me. Yes, it would be logical for `discrete’ to mean `fragmented, ill-defined’, based on the Latin root. However the word is not generally used in this sense in English (to my knowledge).

      That is, if you say `The department is very discrete these days’, no one will understand the sentence as `The department is fractured/divided these days’.

      • Geoffrey -  August 12, 2015 - 7:45 am

        Of course, you could say “Due to internal conflicts in the department, the administration thought it best to separate it into two discrete entities”.

        • jessica -  November 16, 2015 - 12:29 am

          I guess what you could say is to remember the definition;
          “The people are discretely discreet. The people are divided privately”

      • Michael Vigne -  August 17, 2015 - 4:39 am

        No one? I would, even though the ‘very’ would be redundant; it’s either discrete or not. Many, if not most people who work in science, mathematics or engineering would understand..

        • mdmad -  March 23, 2016 - 10:48 am

          Yes, the redundant “very” would lead people think the use of “discrete” means private in that context.

      • Cameron -  September 16, 2015 - 7:34 pm

        You don’t typically use discrete as a straight adjective. It typically defines a relationship between two nouns (unlike discreet, which can easily be used to define one noun). In other words, the company alone is not discrete, but the company can be discrete FROM something else.

        • Tracy the Highscooler -  October 29, 2015 - 8:17 pm

          You guys are very intelligent, I understood exactly half of what you said.

          • Woodsy -  May 25, 2016 - 7:59 pm

            They love that. It’s what they strive for, and not discreetly.

        • px fragonard -  November 7, 2015 - 1:47 pm

          One can see the original root of both words quite clearly: to be discreet means to keep it under your hat. But to be discrete is what happens to the relationship between me and my hat when I raise it off my head in a sign of respect to your excellent point!

    • Bellflower -  August 21, 2015 - 4:09 am

      At first I had thought that perhaps you were simply confusing unrelated roots, but even in logical assumption it is still not valid. If you wish to believe that “Dis” means opposite or “not” in the word “Discrete”, then you cannot simply ignore than “Con” is another root that means “not” or in opposition to. So using that same logic, shouldn’t “Discrete” and “Concrete” then be synonymous and have the same or similar meaning?

      Even then, I do not think “concrete” in that context, even originates from the same root or origins. The word “Concrete” to mean solid, applies to the physical stuff used to make buildings or sidewalks and comes from the Latin root “concrescere” which means to grow together or to combine and solidify.

      The context in which you are using the word, only comes from later usage to mean hard fact or solid fact, in much later English usage, originating from an asimile, “As solid as concrete”. Even in that mistaken context, “dis” and “con” would still mean the same thing, but that is not what “discreet” means, period. Sure it sounds like a logical rationalization, but of what? A misinterpretation of the meaning of the words?

      • Randy -  September 19, 2015 - 6:05 pm

        I think a case can be made that the root of discrete and concrete are related; as stated, ‘concrete’ is a solid and in terms of building materials, combined into a single unit of disparate particles, while discrete separates out from the single into disparate particles. Concrete is made from four discrete elements, sand, stone, cement and water. Over time even monuments built of concrete decay and return to these discrete elements. Like dat yo’ :)

        • Kristi -  September 26, 2015 - 10:50 pm

          I agree. I’ve always seen and heard that word in chemistry and biology classes. Like you said, discrete particles, as in different particles, molecules, etc. It’s the only reason I know that word exists!

      • Shawn -  September 28, 2015 - 3:02 pm

        You are mistaking the WORD “con” and the PREFIX “con-”. Yes, the word “con” is used as opposition to a force. Many words that contain an ideology of opposition often contain those letters at the start (ie. contend and confront), but just because those letters are there DOES NOT mean they are used as a prefix. It is a misunderstanding due to an automatic psychological association with the letters.

        The actual prefix “con-” is a variation of the prefix “com-”, which means “with” or “together”, not “against” or “in opposition to”.

        The OP’s fallacy is misunderstanding that the letters dis- and con- were not used as prefixes, merely a grouping of letters contained in the original words. The fact that the words are near-opposites are merely a coincidence and not based on prefixes in any way whatsoever. (Example: convex and concave both begin with con but are complete opposites because con is not used as a prefix)

        • Michael -  October 10, 2015 - 11:00 am

          You are right about convex and concave, but you are wrong about concrete and discrete. The word concrete comes from Latin concrescere meaning to grow together. In that word, the “con-” definitely plays the role of a prefix.

    • Gary -  September 15, 2015 - 6:09 pm

      I don’t think that the word concrete is well used as an opposition to discrete. For instance a scuba diver might come upon discrete concretions of lime upon the sea floor. I would prefer to hear discrete used in opposition to the sense of unified e.g. The former Soviet Union has now separated into discrete geopolitical entities.

    • graypanther -  September 16, 2015 - 5:40 am

      Thank you for my first big laugh of the day.
      The political comment was delightfully interpolated into your excellent comment .
      Hilarious and apt.

    • -arlene -  September 17, 2015 - 8:01 pm

      Very well explained! Ang galing :)

    • Shawn -  September 28, 2015 - 2:45 pm

      The whole discrete/concrete using opposite latin prefixes is a nice sentiment, however it is completely wrong. While con- is often used as a variation of the prefix com- it is not exclusively a prefix. Many prefixes are found in words in which the letters do not act as prefixes.

      Concrete actually comes from the latin word “concrescere” which means to “grow together”, even though modern definitions use the word itself to mean “solidarity” or “firm”. Later that word was changed to concretus which may be causing some of the confusion here. While the two words are in fact opposites, the basis of that opposition is in no way due to prefix, nor is it due to modern definition. it is because the original words themselves are opposite in their original definition. The latin discretus meant “separate” which is exactly opposed to “grow together”. (Example: night and day, black and white, soft and hard are all opposites but none of them are opposite due to prefixes. The words themselves are opposite in meaning)

      The fact that both discrete and concrete both begin with three letters that are also used frequently as prefixes is simply a coincidence, and not a result of prefixes used in the original latin.

      • Michael -  October 10, 2015 - 11:14 am

        You are contradicting yourself here. You say in a different comment “The actual prefix “con-” is a variation of the prefix “com-”, which means “with” or “together”” and at the same time say that “Concrete actually comes from the latin word “concrescere” which means to “grow together””. So how can you possibly contend that the “con-” in “concrescere” ISN’T a prefix meaning “together”. It is.

        Now, there seems to be some disagreement over whether the -cretus in “discretus” comes from cerno or cresco (from crescere), but if it is the latter, then discrete and concrete are, in a sense, opposites as defined by their prefixes. The “original definitions”, as you put it, is because of those prefixes and is not a “coincidence”.

    • Nagabanu -  October 19, 2015 - 9:47 pm


    • MUSTAFA -  November 9, 2015 - 8:26 am

      Elaine, you are just brilliant!

    • John -  March 31, 2016 - 7:34 am

      The government is already discrete according to your usage of the word.

    • Tom -  June 22, 2016 - 11:53 pm

      Wow… what a wonderful followup to a dictionary definition. Thank you!

  32. samuipaul -  June 8, 2015 - 11:20 am

    ’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    “Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
    The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
    Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
    The frumious Bandersnatch!”

    He took his vorpal sword in hand;
    Long time the manxome foe he sought—
    So rested he by the Tumtum tree
    And stood awhile in thought.

    And, as in uffish thought he stood,
    The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
    Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
    And burbled as it came!

    One, two! One, two! And through and through
    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
    He left it dead, and with its head
    He went galumphing back.

    “And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
    Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
    O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
    He chortled in his joy.

    ’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    Argue all you want, the very best use of English really does not need to make sense.

    • Vicki Acquah -  August 14, 2015 - 4:08 pm

      so true this is one of my favorites

  33. Marcus25 -  June 7, 2015 - 8:25 pm

    Example from The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA) which clearly shows the meaning of discrete:
    Classifying Items.
    Discrete – A completely discrete-point item would test simply one point or objective such as testing for the meaning of a word in isolation. For example:
    Choose the correct meaning of the word paralysis.
    (A) inability to move
    (B) state of unconscious
    (C) state of shock
    (D) being in pain

    WHEREAS discreet means: prudent, unpretentious, modest, unobtrusive, unnoticeable.

    • Dave Eakin -  August 25, 2015 - 7:36 am

      alas, alas I must be discreet, for my wife’s lover is now discrete.

      • Rohantha Seneviratne -  September 17, 2015 - 2:29 am

        You mean “my wife and her lover are now discrete”

        • Nick -  November 24, 2015 - 8:34 am

          Not at all. He obviously meant he separated the lover into his component parts!

      • bob mont -  October 12, 2015 - 12:01 pm

        thats when i become indescrete and hit him lika a bag of concrete

  34. Eugene Bezodis -  June 2, 2015 - 6:20 pm

    I’m afraid I remain unconvinced, or at least unpersuaded. Discrete surely means pertaining to discretion, which indicates understanding or appreciating that which should be openly available and that which should not.
    The word “Distinct” is a much better choice that “Discreet”, when trying to stress a separateness between two things. “Discreet” has the feel of words such as “pants”, which Americans confusingly use to describe trousers, when the word “trousers” suffices perfectly well. Pants are (normally) worn underneath trousers, as most English people know only too well.

    • jontyb -  June 7, 2015 - 4:14 am

      Eugene, unfortunately our Cousins may be correct. I wear UNDERPANTS beneath my trousers. Thus they must be under my PANTS. Damn those Y**ks.

    • Richard -  June 7, 2015 - 1:27 pm

      What’s that under there? Under where? That’s what I wear under my pants, also known as underpants. Anyone can wear the pants in a family but only men wear trousers, the habitat of the one eyed trouser snake.

      • Thompson -  August 6, 2015 - 5:45 pm

        Q: What are you eating under there?

        A: Under where?

        Response: You eat underwear?

        • Faith -  November 13, 2015 - 11:27 am

          oh my.. too funny!

      • Aunt Bea -  November 8, 2015 - 4:46 pm

        You need to post a warning before people read this. I quite nearly spewed coffee all over my iPad. PDF! (Pretty Darn Funny!)

    • Fred -  August 1, 2015 - 9:53 pm

      I refer to my outer wear as strides, duds, tweeds or dax – my ‘underwear is either jocks, underduds, or undies, all depending on the company I’m inm. If, however, I’m having afternoon tea on the Lawn with Her Ladyship, then I’ll make no reference to my attire whatsoever, conduct myself discreetly, and extend my pinkie whilst slurping tea from the Dalton ware.

      • Colon Irrigatus -  August 9, 2015 - 6:21 pm

        Your pinkie should stay unextended in such circumstances. At least unless you know Her Ladyship extremely well… almost Biblically one might say.

    • Nick -  November 24, 2015 - 8:36 am

      Semper Ubi Sub Ubi!

    • Roger Jones -  November 24, 2015 - 4:42 pm

      “I have several discreet matters to discuss with you.
      Each must be handled in a totally discrete manner.”

      In these two sentences, the meaning is thus:
      “I have several secret matters to discuss with you; and each must be handled totally separately.”

      If we reverse the two homophones: “I have several discrete matters to discuss with you. Each must be handled in a totally discreet manner.”

      The meaning of each sentence is changed, but, surprisingly, the meaning of the paragraph is not.

      discreet: Secret, secretive, discretion /// discrete: separate, totally different

    • Amy -  December 17, 2015 - 7:04 am

      No one seemed to notice your mistaken definitions and instead discussed that word pants. Distinct is to discrete not discreet

    • mdmad -  March 23, 2016 - 11:11 am

      Discrete means separate or distinct. Discreet means secretive or “on the down low”.

  35. lavaboyz -  May 27, 2015 - 9:40 pm

    and All these while I though the words Discrete and Discreet is like Color and Colour. Same word, different spelling. Different country specific language usage.

    One is American spelling and the other is in British English…

    :P sheesh..

    I was so wrong about this… Turns out its 2 different words altogether..HOW IN HECK AM I gonna pass my English langguage class in this manner….sigh.

    • Ronei -  May 29, 2015 - 6:10 am

      English langguage?

      • Sue Bass -  June 1, 2015 - 11:44 am

        LOL, well, he’s not taking a spelling class…hmmmm, English language….betcha the prof take off for spelling…on second thought, guess he’d better pay a bit more attentionto his spelling…

        • jon jons -  June 3, 2015 - 6:47 am

          Oh dear, if you’re going to criticise someone else’s spelling at least have the decency to have a look at your own. That said, it’s fantastic that your typo is on “pay a bit more attention”.

          • Jack -  June 3, 2015 - 10:10 pm

            @jon jons-

            haha brilliant – wait, this can’t be possible.

            Did I really just read through some random response thread from an online dictionary and actually find it cleverly entertaining? Crazy talk.

          • kalil -  June 16, 2015 - 5:30 pm


          • Randy -  September 19, 2015 - 6:20 pm

            busted dude LoL, but really now, who can judge…history will record that in the age of android, grammar and spelling were the first victims…but the greatest loss was the ability to focus…now our attention span is limited to 150 characters…hellooooo people, a little DISCRETION please :-D

        • Didi Simer -  July 23, 2015 - 10:47 pm

          LOL, and you as well. You wrote, ” He’d better pay a bit more attentionto his spelling…” :)

          • Dave Eakin -  August 25, 2015 - 7:41 am

            My typing finger is dyslectic. (Well – at least that the excuse I give)

  36. Mike -  May 17, 2015 - 1:45 am

    I like using this service, but why do all the links of descriptive examples lead only to hard-left websites?

    • Bill H -  May 23, 2015 - 7:55 pm

      So they can advertise on the right as most of us are right oriented. They want sell more than they want to provide useful information.

    • T -  May 25, 2015 - 9:35 pm

      Because, Mike that’s where all the intelligent people are.

      • booheady -  May 29, 2015 - 6:35 am

        … explains why you are instead here

    • villefort -  May 26, 2015 - 10:41 am

      Those aren’t ‘hard-left’ websites. They’re hardly left-wing at all.

    • Matt -  June 4, 2015 - 5:06 pm

      At least I now know I can refer to the Left and Right as being discrete.

      • Tam -  July 10, 2015 - 7:34 pm

        Nice work, Matt.

      • squid -  August 5, 2015 - 9:39 pm

        but hardly discreet …

      • mark -  September 19, 2015 - 11:03 am

        hee hee hee … slapstick syntactical humor at it’s best! That is very high-brow content!

  37. Reptile -  May 4, 2015 - 5:12 pm

    “We find ourselves up against the barrier of a common language.” Dylan Thomas.
    “Miscommunication tends to make things better.” many, many.

  38. Nicholas -  April 22, 2015 - 10:36 am

    I once learned the easy way to distinguish these terms. If the e’s are separated by the “t”, then the right word is “discrete” (meaning “separate”).

    • Kindergarten -  April 23, 2015 - 1:04 am

      You are all so very funny. I love this website! I’ll have to come back just read your post. Goodnight all!

      • Pawg_rider_68.9 -  April 24, 2015 - 10:45 am

        I feel dumber for reading these comments…Within all of us is a small child or maybe a mermaid, just trying to disambiguate the pretext of various discussions fermented and extracted from each and everyone of our own orifices. Blue Steel you say? I prefer my hogs hand tied with a nice pinot noir or merlot. And there my point has been made beyond doubt. You have just wasted 30secs of your life reading this meaningless drivel.Where is the monitor for this site? So much academic snobbery. And yet all of us can learn something from this. And I am coming to visit each and everyone of you discreetly without discretion to steal back those seconds of life you have stolen! Ok I’m kidding…Sarah if your reading this I still love you. Little Bobby misses you crazy like. Ma and Pa are dead, well it’s probably for the better they are bother and sister, and you are my wife sister and cousin. Love you miss you c u we like peas and carrots. I love you America, Asia,Europe,Middle East,Africa not so much Africa you are still beautiful even though Ma and Pa gave you a funny name. And finally in the interest of the disinterested please no more prejudice in all it’s inglorious forms, at the end of the day if I cut you you will bleed the same colour or color as me that is RED RED RED!!! and you don’t have to be a Stalinist to understand. please more tolerance. more tolerance more tolerance, tolerance and love love and tolernce doubble wrainbow oops thr durgs sorry feeling drugs kic king in..
        All language is for communication isn’t it just wonderful. ;)

        • . -  May 4, 2015 - 5:03 am

          pawgs <3

        • David -  May 9, 2015 - 5:18 pm

          I have to admit, that was one of the best comments I have ever read. Switching between stereo types so completely, and yet so smoothly. For that you deserve a slow clap my freind. (clap)…(clap)…(clap).

          • Nick -  August 26, 2015 - 8:02 am

            I before e friend.

        • Michael Miller -  May 11, 2015 - 4:44 am

          Thank you.

        • Elli Cooper -  May 11, 2015 - 6:51 am

          Pawg, I love this. Can I use it?

        • Om -  June 5, 2015 - 8:31 am

          I bet you must be a vegetarian! That’s very noble of you to help stop the violence and prejudice. I am one too. If you cut a goat, cow, chicken, turkey, camel, salmon, or a dog… don’t they bleed RED RED RED too? Thank you!

        • chris gill -  June 5, 2015 - 11:31 am

          So elyphanty put.

        • Miners Lettuce -  July 16, 2015 - 5:43 pm


        • Fred -  August 1, 2015 - 9:58 pm

          “Ok I’m kidding…Sarah if your reading this I still love you.” Ooooh! YOU’RE

        • squid -  August 5, 2015 - 9:50 pm

          great spiel. and bonus points for tying in a vaguely subtle reference to the at-hand topic. however, on a somewhat seriously argued slant: all language is not necessarily, or even firstly, for communication. there are schools which asseverate our brain’s natural propensity for formalism as an aid to understanding and interacting that outside our conscious mind. that communication is (strong version) a hugely useful outcome of this thought structure, or (moderate version) it arose in parallel/correlated development. I can hardly present a complete, discrete, and concrete underpinning here. but it was a notion that intrigued and beguiled me – not dissimilar to your post …

          • mark -  September 19, 2015 - 11:13 am

            “firstly”? Really?! Come on, maaaaannn….

        • Vicki Acquah -  August 14, 2015 - 4:11 pm

          this is my favorite reply of all times brilliantly funny

        • mark -  September 19, 2015 - 11:11 am

          Is “to visit discreetly without discretion” your way of annihilating any possibility that we could ever receive a visit from your Wordship? Perhaps you had intended, rather; to “visit discretely without discretion”? I’m merely pondering and considering the intent, as I was obviously intrigued by the audacity of your bulbosity in your lexical journey of jargon! I know … right?

        • mdmad -  March 23, 2016 - 11:24 am

          can i get some of those drugs please

        • Stalin -  May 6, 2016 - 3:53 am

          If there is one thing that I just can’t stand its intolerance !

    • Ngozi -  April 27, 2015 - 2:36 pm

      I love this site; draws my attention to words I take for granted. I learn more each time I’m here.

    • aj -  May 2, 2015 - 9:59 pm

      that’s very helpful indeed

    • Eric O. -  May 26, 2015 - 8:56 pm

      That’s a brilliant mnemonic- thanks!

  39. Blake -  April 13, 2015 - 4:07 pm

    Especially in the earlier comments

  40. Blake -  April 13, 2015 - 4:03 pm

    Is there a reason for these many typographical errors in seemingly at least every other person’s comment?

    • You -  April 17, 2015 - 6:51 am

      It’s simple- people are stupid. It’s obviously too much to remember where to put periods, commas, and apostrophes.

      • Pete -  April 23, 2015 - 9:53 am

        You said it. Thank you. These stupid abbreviation’s used are really getting on my nerves. Spelling checkers seem to be more trouble than good as you can tell just reading the news. People just accept the spelling checkers first choice and often it is wrong, making the sentence mean nothing intelligent. I notice newspapers are getting really bad about that.
        Just on the off chance someone may notice I’ll give an example. Frankly I don’t read newspapers anymore. Too much lying and just wrong. However I go to Livingston, TX once a week to visit with my Father In Law who has Dementia. He has the Polk County Enterprise paper delivered every Sunday. So due to boredom I look it over. The reporters there write like a demented sixth grader. The abuse of the spelling checker is very obvious and shows up many times per page and often many time per article. It’s shameful. These people are supposed to be educated in writing.

        • Pawg_rider_68.9 -  April 24, 2015 - 10:44 am

          I feel dumber for reading these comments…Within all of us is a small child or maybe a mermaid, just trying to disambiguate the pretext of various discussions fermented and extracted from each and everyone of our own orifices. Blue Steel you say? I prefer my hogs hand tied with a nice pinot noir or merlot. And there my point has been made beyond doubt. You have just wasted 30secs of your life reading this meaningless drivel.Where is the monitor for this site? So much academic snobbery. And yet all of us can learn something from this. And I am coming to visit each and everyone of you discreetly without discretion to steal back those seconds of life you have stolen! Ok I’m kidding…Sarah if your reading this I still love you. Little Bobby misses you crazy like. Ma and Pa are dead, well it’s probably for the better they are bother and sister, and you are my wife sister and cousin. Love you miss you c u we like peas and carrots. I love you America, Asia,Europe,Middle East,Africa not so much Africa you are still beautiful even though Ma and Pa gave you a funny name. And finally in the interest of the disinterested please no more prejudice in all it’s inglorious forms, at the end of the day if I cut you you will bleed the same colour or color as me that is RED RED RED!!! and you don’t have to be a Stalinist to understand. please more tolerance. more tolerance more tolerance, tolerance and love love and tolernce doubble wrainbow oops thr durgs sorry feeling drugs kic king in..
          All language is for communication isn’t it just wonderful. ;)

          • Francis -  April 28, 2015 - 3:23 pm

            Yes its obvious

        • Kevin -  April 26, 2015 - 4:02 am

          Love your ironic use of the possessive inverted comma (in abbreviation’s)

        • but -  May 12, 2015 - 1:20 am

          In your third sentence, “abbreviation’s” is incorrect. It should merely read, abbreviations, as you are referring to multiples, not a possession or possessions.

          “Spelling checkers” however should have a comma as you are referring to the possessive, “first choice.” It should read, “The spelling checker’s first choice…”

          You also wrote father-in-law incorrectly because you left out the hyphens.

          Perhaps people making mistakes on a public comment board isn’t about their stupidity at all, but just hurried mistakes.

          • Perkins -  May 15, 2015 - 11:20 am

            Pete, Pete, Pete, it should be ‘…and many TIMES per article. “The abuse of the spelling checker is very obvious and shows up many times per page and often many time per article. It’s shameful.” Glass houses people:)

        • Dumbo -  January 6, 2016 - 9:30 pm

          “The soul per pus four a spelling check her is two valley date yore ignore ants.” — mmerlinn —

      • Ross -  August 16, 2015 - 11:07 am

        Exactly. A comma is not used before the word “and”. The word “and” serves as a comma in sentences even when preceded by multiple commas.

        • Kristi -  September 26, 2015 - 11:08 pm

          Yes, a comma is used before “and” if it is connecting two sentences that can stand on their own,(comma) and that is all I have left in the world.

          • Ree -  October 20, 2015 - 9:54 am

            Thank you Kristi. For a moment I thought I had been taught something wrong!

    • Karen -  August 5, 2015 - 9:54 am

      Was it a typographical error when you wrote “these many” instead of “this many”, or did you allow your auto-fill to make the grammatically incorrect choice for you? I think you should be asking yourself the question, considering you have an error in your question about errors!

      • Karen -  August 5, 2015 - 10:18 am

        Just to be clear, since my comment shows up so far down the list and away from the comment in question, I was referring to a post made by “Blake”, in which he asked the question: “Is there a reason for these many typographical errors in seemingly at least every other person’s comment?”.

    • budinski -  August 7, 2015 - 1:49 am

      That’s amusing Blake. Surly you meant ( Is there a reason for THIS many typographical errors…?) Classic!

    • mdmad -  March 23, 2016 - 11:28 am

      it’s because some people don’t care about grammar unless it’s for something important

      • mdmad -  March 23, 2016 - 11:30 am

        this isn’t English 101

  41. Baraka Bakili -  April 7, 2015 - 4:34 pm

    Let us analyse in geometrical elevation these two words DISCRETE and DISCREET
    DI stands for double
    DIS stands for Polarity
    DISC Not True D can’t be C
    seems both words inscribe same behavior and gratitude of low profile similar to SALT easily forgotten in major food stuff but never replaced… sorry my current position in Mars as by now allow me to forward forth

    • YoMaMa -  September 27, 2015 - 8:17 am

      “Analyze” not analyse! stupid!

      • Nicolette -  February 28, 2016 - 5:19 am

        It depends what educational system one learnt from. I was taught to spell it analyse, not analyze. Similarly I was taught to spell colour as I have spelt it, not color as some spell it. My spell check is often incorrect for me so I try to proof read before I post, as well as correct typos and grammatical errors as I go.

  42. The Very Reverend Sir Jack Monterey -  April 7, 2015 - 12:44 pm

    Whilst the British (“Licensor”) granted to the American people (“Licensee”) a licence to USE the English Language, no right to MODIFY the language was included or subsequently granted. Indeed, the termination provisions within the extant licence provide for termination forthwith in the event of breach. Further, that failure to or delay in executing such right to terminate shall not represent any waiver of such right.

    The stage is surely (still) set.


    • Ego Adjuster -  April 14, 2015 - 10:59 pm

      You are to be congratulated sir. It is not often that I have witnessed such pretentious verbosity…. The arrogance displayed in your pompous derision of America is exceeded only by the level of ignorance you have shown in what amounts to nothing more than bombastic self aggrandizement.

      • Brigitte Santella -  April 15, 2015 - 1:31 pm

        I haven’t laughed so hard in days….thanks Ego Adjuster!

      • null -  April 16, 2015 - 2:40 am


      • Ha! -  April 16, 2015 - 3:16 pm

        You’re my new best friend, Ego Adjuster.

      • Pete -  April 23, 2015 - 9:58 am

        Wow Mr. Ego Adjuster! May I use that line on FaceBook? Probably aren’t enough people there that can understand it to make it worthwhile. At least I got a really good laugh from that. Thanks, sir…..

      • Gwen -  June 5, 2015 - 7:53 pm

        I would guess that the guy’s a lawyer.

        • Madra Rhu -  August 10, 2015 - 8:01 am

          I’m guessing that what JM meant, was that when the first congress of the 13 United States voted that English be the language of the newly independant nation by one vote over German, he wishes the vote had gone the other way. That way we wouldn’t be “two nations divided by a common language” with all the confusion that has entailed.

    • Paco -  April 15, 2015 - 6:04 am

      We were never ‘licensed’ to use the English language, you idiot. The Americas were a British colony, and so British people lived there. Over time, they started developing their own dialects, which always happens- surely you know the difference between Cockney English and Midlands English. Besides, the United States is, and always has been, a natively English speaking country, and, frankly, we stopped giving two craps about what the British thought of us during the Revolutionary War.
      Next time, if you want to troll, use logic and be more informed.

      • Kath -  April 17, 2015 - 11:16 am

        Here is a list of words for you to look up. Learn them and learn to recognize them in others’ writing:


        • mee -  June 4, 2015 - 11:14 pm

          Learn the difference between irony and sarcasm. They’re two discrete words.

          • mcg -  July 18, 2015 - 10:20 pm

            Discreetly, may I throw in camp and cheesy ?

          • squid -  August 5, 2015 - 10:05 pm

            mee, are you sure you got “discrete” right? there can be major overlap in their definitions, in addition to their own outlines of meaning. I personally am somewhat incredulous when I see the reply “don’t you get sarcasm?”. I am a pretty clued-in guy; I can fully understand how sarcasm, irony, and the vast gulf between them can be m missed in a textual statement devoid of any highlighting clues used in most (non web-comment) exchange. oh, damn, i’ve done it again, haven’t I? fallen prey to your dastardly self-referential double irony. I wish I was mee ..

      • Pete -  April 23, 2015 - 10:01 am

        No sir you are wrong. We did not stop caring. We just have to remind them once in a while that there is a Musket behind every tree. Swapping insult for insult take a look at your country. We are devolving rapidly toward a very undesirable situation. Only the UK and Europe in general are way ahead of us. Is it just jealousy now?

    • Chris -  April 20, 2015 - 2:11 am

      I think the OP was just being facetious…

    • Recovering Barrister -  April 26, 2015 - 12:10 pm

      Hold that thought, Jack, and consider before you exercise putative termination rights, or file that complaint, that anticipatory breach is not only an affirmative defense but also a cause of action, no doubt accompanied by other, nastier-sounding ones. Also, principles of adverse possession extend not only to the realty upon which America sits, but also to the personalty situate thereon, including millions of books written in the (nominally) English language to which you pretend ownership rights. Wave goodbye to your non-waiver clause, Jacko.

      Besides, the way things are going, who knows if your arcane, full-of-exceptions language will much longer be the predominant lingo over here.

      Fie and a pox upon your pedantic threats to terminate, Limey.

      Ever so lovingly signed,
      Your Humble Colonist Offspring.

      • Recovering Barrister -  April 26, 2015 - 12:18 pm

        Sorry, forgot the original point: The second paragraph of the preceding jibe is discrete from the first, whilst the entire message is discreetly offered.

        Thank you and goodnite.

        (I’ve got to get a real hobby.)

      • Magilicuddy -  July 13, 2015 - 8:58 am

        It’s all a bunch of pedantry, and you pedants don’t have enough to do.

      • squid -  August 5, 2015 - 10:09 pm

        i just bumped into Chaucer. Apparently it was his language: all these Brits are corrupting the purity of what he defines as “English” (quite as arbitrarily as Sir Jack). Watch out Monterey – pretty sure he was carrying a lawsuit!

    • mcg -  July 18, 2015 - 10:29 pm

      Very cheesy, Monterey.

  43. Jesus Christ -  March 18, 2015 - 11:16 am

    I should have killed you all :) bless yall.

    • Ego Adjuster -  April 14, 2015 - 11:49 pm

      Better men than you have tried. I am the master of all, save one. He is my father…. so bring it punk.

      • You -  April 17, 2015 - 6:53 am

        I think I could.

    • lolma -  April 22, 2015 - 11:38 pm


    • Southern Linguist -  May 9, 2015 - 6:32 pm

      I read most of the above comments far too fast to take away anything truly insightful. You know we Southerners talk slowly, so we must think slowly also.
      Anyway, please, please, please — spell the contraction of you + all correctly. It is y’all.
      And just a little added note. Y’all better get used to it because everyone who is even somewhat native to the South uses it. Most re-locators use it in under five years. And all the Afro-Americans who moved north during the diaspora used it also. Their children and grandchildren still use it. I hear “y’all” used on TV at least one a day, and the speaker is not usually from the South.
      I’m sure some people are feeling rather like the Quakers; it must have been really hard to adjust to “you” being used as second person singular.

      • sandy pearson -  June 14, 2015 - 7:50 am

        Y’all is not a contraction of you + all. It is actually an English contraction of ye + all and dates from before American colonization. It was used when talking to an informal group of people. You all was used when talking to a group of friends or relatives. By the way, I’m Canadian and we have some terms discrete from both American and British english dialects.

  44. Fred -  March 3, 2015 - 2:15 pm

    I found the fact that the use of “discrete” was increasing interesting. One of the reasons could be the advance of technology since the 40′s. The first time I recalled hearing or using the word was when referencing older electronics that did not include integrated circuits but instead used transistors, resistors, etc.. Then there was the difference between audio receivers and systems with discrete components (tuner, pre-amp, power amp).

    • tom -  March 10, 2015 - 10:31 am

      I notice that in Fred’s comment on Mar 3, the word 40′s gets broken in half at the end of the first line by the formatting rules, which is a little funny for a grammar website.

      • 1EarthMother -  March 24, 2015 - 6:33 pm

        Duly noted. Bahahaa.. ^5

      • Carlo Pena II -  April 13, 2015 - 1:42 am

        tom, the first let of your [proper] name should be capitalized. I think it is a little funny that it is not…

    • Terrence Brown -  March 24, 2015 - 7:30 am

      Apostrophes aren’t needed for plurals (e.g., CDs 40s 2000s TVs VINs SS#s etc.).

      • Jim -  April 7, 2015 - 1:25 pm

        Terrence is correct about the plurals. However, in this context, an apostrophe is required. It is just in the wrong place. It should be ’40s, not 40′s.

        • Nicolette -  February 28, 2016 - 6:11 am

          You are correct Jim. I was taught that when a letter or number is omitted in an abbreviation, an apostrophe is used to show that omission, (as you have done), regardless of where it falls in the word or number or contraction e.g. ’til, ’40s, i.e. 1940s, and they’re. Of course if Terrence was referring to the numbers ranging from 40 to 49 (or 40 b.c. and 40 a.d.),then no apostrophe is required.

      • Karen -  April 12, 2015 - 9:20 am

        Well, actually, that depends on which style guide you follow…

      • Carlo Pena II -  April 13, 2015 - 1:49 am

        Nowadays, in our e-social reality, it is cool not to use apostrophes under your plural examples.

        • Richard Martin Attridge ll -  November 20, 2015 - 2:14 pm

          What if it was stated differently? ex: The technology of today is very discrete then that of which belonged to the 40′s. Would that not emply possesion?
          Slainte mhath!

  45. Fali Roowalla -  February 14, 2015 - 6:56 am

    English is not my mother tongue but of the 7 languages I speak, I’m more familiar with it and I like your site where I learn new words and also very many tit-bits of information which many are not familiar with. Those who are more proficient in the language, have no need to criticize those who are not. I presume we make comments on various sites to add to what you know or learn from others. Therefore its best we keep it civil. I for one like to play with words in any language that I speak. It makes the language more interesting and picturesque too. Thank you.

    • Ann -  February 27, 2015 - 4:09 am

      This site is a disaster for a scholar who is curious! I looked up a word, then began reading the comments, and have still not gone back to the study I was reading! Words are fun and interesting. I envy those who can speak so many languages. The little bit I do know of other languages helps me understand English better. Knowing the origin of a word is immensely helpful. Having studied old fashioned grammar, diagramming sentences, taking “Modern English Syntax” in college and knowing just a little Latin, Spanish, and French has enriched my English skills. But, I’d better get back to my original article…

      • John -  June 24, 2015 - 6:21 am

        Me too! How did I get here? 70x365x24x3600-327

        • Madra Rhu -  August 10, 2015 - 8:14 am

          LOL! Me too. The etymology of a word or phrase in any language is a fascinating and informative pastime but I have a dissertation to write and only came on here to confirm a synonym and antonym of a word. That was hours ago dammit!!

    • Joe -  March 10, 2015 - 12:38 am

      That would be “tidbits”. :) Very good english otherwise.

      • Ianto Jones -  March 16, 2015 - 6:55 am

        Actually, that depends on where you’re from. In British English titbit it acceptable and probably used instead of tidbit by most (but I don’t think either words are that common in use any more).

        • G-dawg -  April 14, 2015 - 5:34 pm

          In America we use “tidbit” quite often.

          • You -  April 17, 2015 - 6:54 am

            I think that was already clarified, idiot.

      • Elli Cooper -  May 11, 2015 - 7:02 am

        And its needs an apostrophe as it is a contraction of it is.

    • Carlo Pena II -  April 13, 2015 - 1:30 am

      Fali, hello:

      - remove, “also very” from your first sentence.

      - in your second sentence, a comma is not required following the word “language.”

      - in your third sentence, the word ‘its’ requires an apostrophe, or spelt-out as: it is. – As well, following the leading word, “Therefore”, a comma is required.

      - in your fourth paragraph ii is written, “I for one….”, requires a comma; i.e., I, for one, like…. -or- simply delete the two words, “for one.”

      - what is the single premise of your entire comment. It (the premise)appears out of sync… when you say, “I presume we make comments on various sites to add to what you know or learn from others.”


      • You -  April 17, 2015 - 7:13 am

        Oh good job! You’re so smart!!! Here, take this virtual cookie. You’ve earned it.

        • Jus -  April 25, 2015 - 9:12 pm

          I think Carlo was trying to help Fali. I sensed no pretentiousness whatsoever. Carlo just posted up corrections so Fali can learn English a little better.

          • Elli Cooper -  May 11, 2015 - 7:07 am

            I agree, and serendipitously (is that a word?) us, the readers of this blog, as well.

      • David -  May 9, 2015 - 5:34 pm

        This website is amazing! Whenever I check a comment section on any other website there are painful fallicies in spelling and grammar, it makes it hard to understand what anyone means without punctuation. But here commenters make fun of the English language without ever even mispelling something! This is so unreasonably entertaining!

        • mee -  June 4, 2015 - 11:16 pm

          You misspelled misspelling ;-)

        • Shawn -  September 28, 2015 - 3:12 pm

          …and fallacies instead of fallicies

    • Pete -  April 23, 2015 - 10:07 am

      Seven languages??? I’m jealous! I know shouldn’t use so many question marks. Sorry!
      I often suggest to web site managers changes in the words etc but only as a thought of trying to help. I never criticize as I’m not able to write in their language even as well as they do mine.

    • Fred -  August 1, 2015 - 10:04 pm

      Tid-bits. Your spelling can be construed as being sexist

  46. edward -  February 10, 2015 - 6:15 am

    When someone has their feelings hurt and the person would say, “don’t take it personally.” Or would it be personal? I think it’s personally and not personal. I think personal means employee. So don’t take it employee is the way I see it would mean……please define?

    • Sbennett -  February 10, 2015 - 7:36 pm

      Personally, I believe “personnel” is the word you would employ.

    • Nan -  February 11, 2015 - 9:49 pm

      personally would be correct because you need an ADVERB – take it personally.

      Personnel means people – and is often used to mean employees.

      Hope this helps.

    • Mutiara -  February 16, 2015 - 12:12 am

      Agreed with Nan, “personally” is the word…

    • Gregory -  February 23, 2015 - 6:01 pm

      Also, colloquially, both “don’t take it personal” and “don’t take it personally” are used.

      • RagipR. -  March 17, 2015 - 1:19 pm

        Wrong though!

    • LS CHOPRA -  February 28, 2015 - 2:34 am

      personal is related to “person”. To describe an employee you have to use the word “personnel”.

      • RagipR. -  March 17, 2015 - 1:23 pm

        Personal => something private, intimate, pertaining only to the person; eg. personal belongings.
        Personnel => employees. eg. hotel personel

    • Carlo Pena II -  April 13, 2015 - 1:38 am

      1) Personnel, means employee
      2) I think you are correct, or
      2.1) “don’t take it so personal.”

  47. Dian Barnett -  February 7, 2015 - 2:43 pm

    This is my first visit to site. Useful and fun way to look up differences between words and other trivia that wordsmiths are always obsessing about. I am a poet and am constantly trying to find exactly to proper word that does not strain the rhyme or meter of a particular verse form.
    What distresses me is how downright rude and nasty many responses are! It would seem that many responders are, at most, an emotional age of twelve, regardless of their chronological age!
    Shame on you! There is no such thing as a stupid question when it is asked genuinely as a search for understanding.
    Since some of you preport to be highly knowledgeable regarding all things grammatical, I leave you with these words to ponder …
    PETTY. SOPHMORIC. INANE. HURTFUL. INCONSIDERATE. DISRESPECTFUL. ETC. ETC. You know who you are and there are too many of you on the ” ether” , when we would all be better off if you were ” under ether.”

    • Jacob Lewis -  February 26, 2015 - 7:02 am

      Wow, your poetic writing shows through in this comment, even if it doesn’t follow any strict poetic form

      • You -  April 15, 2015 - 6:11 am

        Wow, your skill at sucking up to everyone shows through in your comment!

    • RagipR. -  March 17, 2015 - 1:25 pm


    • brian croll -  March 19, 2015 - 1:07 pm

      You sooooo.. reflect my sentiment. I cannot (or is it can’t) stand egomeniacal judgemental grammer nazis.

      • sandy pearson -  June 14, 2015 - 8:01 am

        That’s egomaniacal.

    • Bill White -  March 29, 2015 - 6:47 am

      I totally agree. Well said!!

      In my opinion, many who comment on this site are being “indiscreety discrete” by posting nasty titbits [British spelling]. May shame follow their indiscreetness. They might better embrace the “community’ of this site rather than trying to be the “grammar police”. This behaviour is rude.

    • Carlo Pena II -  April 13, 2015 - 2:22 am

      Dian, your comment is a commentary of your comment or perhaps your alter [shadow] ego. When [any] limits are placed, consciously or unconsciously, upon the pursuit of factual truth and genuine certainty, civil liberty becomes paralyzed by fear, and the ground is prepared for censorship punishing those who utter “dangerous thoughts” and “candid truths”– in fact, you have already placed such a censorship over your own investigations, as witnessed by [you] sending such comment, with sophomoric piquancy, lyrics from a schizophrenic artist living in a performance bubble who can never find himself responsible; what’s more nearly worse, emphasized and characterized by conflicts and contradictions, suffer from cognitive dissonance, and likely have difficulty recognizing and attending to it. You need to put some headphones on, listen to every Beatles album without pause.

  48. Andromeda -  February 4, 2015 - 3:49 pm

    Use discretion when being discreet

  49. Donna -  January 30, 2015 - 7:06 pm

    This is getting so bad, I can’t distinguish the sarcasm from the ignorance.

    • Dan -  April 8, 2015 - 2:04 pm

      Consequently, the consequences are of no consequence.

    • Carlo Pena II -  April 13, 2015 - 2:24 am

      Only in Amerika…

      • You -  April 17, 2015 - 7:01 am

        Only in America do we have extreme corruption in government, which leads to lots of unemployment, which leads to lots of people living on welfare, which leads to lots of people who have nothing to do to troll on websites to try to be noticed by somebody.
        And of course nobody wants to do anything about it because ‘it works’. I suppose it won’t matter how badly it works since in about 20 or so years we’ll probably either all be dead because of mass flooding, or living in an apocalyptic post-nuclear war world where people will finally decide that they should have done something about global warming.
        It’s okay though. ‘It works’.

  50. misled -  January 26, 2015 - 6:41 am

    The difference between ‘discreet’ and ‘discrete’ at first seams quite discreet, but upon closer inspection, ‘discreet’ and ‘discrete’ are distinctly discrete.

    • Jack -  February 3, 2015 - 4:06 am

      It would seem so!

    • Oksana -  February 7, 2015 - 3:23 am

      Genius practical promt to remember the difference after you’ve read the definitions! A gem! Thanks.

      • Fred -  August 1, 2015 - 10:09 pm


    • Christa -  February 7, 2015 - 7:11 am

      Huh? My first reaction to your comment BUT is this correct?
      Discrete-to seperate- like the t separates the e’s at the end of the word
      Discreet-two e’s at the end, in other words ‘to ease’ –show reserve
      Is this correct?

    • Sun'Du -  February 7, 2015 - 5:07 pm

      It appears that you might require a lesson on the difference between the another pair of homophones (words that sound alike but are different in meaning, spelling, or both): Seams and Seems

      • manengine -  March 9, 2015 - 2:36 pm

        American English is full of homophones, especially now that its socially acceptable to be gay….oh how I digress. lol

        Let me start again, the official language spoken in the USA, English, is full of homophones (words that sound alike but are different in meaning, spelling, or both): too;to;two. be;bee. pair;pare. bare;bear. stare;stair. hear;here. there;their. only a few…..,there are so many more.

        • Mike Hofer -  March 19, 2015 - 11:35 am

          There is no official language spoken in the USA. English is the de-facto standard, but only because it is spoken by the majority of the population.

        • You -  April 15, 2015 - 6:14 am

          Try not to digress with your potentially offensive comments okay? I’m SURE you didn’t mean anything hurtful by what you said, but some might think you are not a nice person.

        • Chris -  July 31, 2015 - 10:14 pm

          A classic is the 3 whethers – wether meaning a castrated male sheep; weather meaning rain, hail & snow; and whether pertaining to options. The wether couldn’t decide whether the weather was too bad to go outside. I love the English language!

          • davo-rayvo -  September 15, 2015 - 11:44 am

            Weren’t there “two” wethers. “Two wethers couldn’t decide whether the weather was too bad to go outside.” Oh well!

            I, too, appreciate the English language – and its infinite variability makes it all the more interesting. It would be so stifling to be pent up by a small, controlled language where each new notion must be voted in by literary traditionalists. Hurrah for the ability to make up words, coin phrases, messs with missspellings, and play with homophonic imagery. “Ain’t it grand – I can scruw up a sentense total and complete and you can still get my drift. Eh?”

            May the vorpal blade go snicker snack to the private hoo-hahs of all those who would belittle those like Lewis Carroll, Ogden Nash, Carl Sandburg, Theodore Giesel, Eugene Field, Joel Chandler Harris, etc., who would use the language to its limits despite the rule-bound snobbery of purists.

            Three discrete things offered discreetly:
            (1) Don’t forget to proofread. Even you are smarter than a spell checker.
            (2) Punctuation? Nobody gets that right. Be kind.
            (3) Nobody likes a smart a__ – especially not another smart a__.

          • mactrooper -  December 21, 2015 - 8:15 pm

            Love your comment. Mentioning those authors was head-on!

    • Fin -  February 7, 2015 - 6:44 pm

      Very well put!!

  51. SACHI M -  January 17, 2015 - 9:25 am


    • You -  April 15, 2015 - 6:20 am


  52. schwackmaster -  January 6, 2015 - 10:54 pm

    Wow, really? Everyone over the age of twelve, please raise you hand….

    • michelle easson -  January 12, 2015 - 1:11 pm

      Ms./Mr. Schwackmaster:
      Your response is ‘spot on,’ if it is your intention to embarrass those who do not know or presume to know everything and are motivated enough to bother to learn. Inquiry into what one does not know does not infer a lack of intelligence or immaturity–quite the opposite. I am happy for you that this is, for you, rudimentary. However, it is your response (and need to make it) that would infer it may well be your hand that should be raised.

      • Jack -  January 29, 2015 - 2:01 pm

        Should not the word “infer” have been instead “imply”? Apparently, you inferred something which may have been implied in the previous message.

        • Andromeda -  February 4, 2015 - 3:52 pm

          O, the implications

      • Mike -  February 9, 2015 - 11:15 pm

        Schwackmaster was, in fact, responding to the first comment in this list, which was implying that they believe everyone commenting was under the emotional age of 12. Might I suggest that you use your obviously well developed language skills and actually spend the time to check your facts before trying to pick a fight.
        I’m pretty sure that the majority visiting this site and those leaving comments aren’t doing it simply to make fun of those that don’t understand, and for the most past those that do interpret this differently are like yourself and are simply taking the comment out of context.

        Oh and before I forget *raises hand*

        • brian -  March 19, 2015 - 1:32 pm

          out of context? check the dates and you might find that you are commenting ‘out of context’

          • You -  April 15, 2015 - 6:18 am

            I’d say you’re a bit of a hypocrite- you responded to something that was more than a month old at the time.

      • brian croll -  March 19, 2015 - 1:20 pm

        I wholly agree.

    • Jo -  January 14, 2015 - 4:35 am

      I guess that means you are out.

    • fabio202 -  January 20, 2015 - 7:12 am

      Wow, really, schwackmaster?
      Oh well…
      Not only it seems that you are oblivious to the sheer amount of grammar and spelling mistakes that ‘the average joe’ makes in his online posts – many does not, sadly, show a real mastery of english even if it’s their native language – but you also seem to forget that internet is a worldwide net, so maybe even the simplest notion can be helpful for many foreigners, you know?

      • Jo Lee Penny -  January 31, 2015 - 4:00 pm

        “Many does not”?

        • Trevor -  February 17, 2015 - 8:26 am

          1. The word English is never lower case. This should read ‘mastery of English’. If we’re going to rebuke one another, our arguments are undermined if we show ignorance of the very matters we’re discussing, wouldn’t you agree?
          2. One can’t have an amount of mistakes. Amount is not a unitary noun… one can have an ‘amount’ of sugar, but we have a ‘number’ of mistakes, i.e. one mistake, two mistakes etc. Mistakes are discrete singular entities, not a heap of something.

          • Czern -  February 25, 2015 - 4:57 pm


            One of the primary arguments in fabio’s comment is encapsulated in the notion that many people do not profess a mastery of English as to which they might currently aspire or be held. In this light, fabio’s argument is not undermined by the fact that his/her comment contained grammatical errors, but rather reinforced.

            It is often a boon to others to have their mistakes pointed out to establish precedents in their learning of a language, but linguistic ignorance should not be allowed to unnecessarily obfuscate the point of an argument (that is, invalid grammar need not always invalidate the thought itself).

      • Carla -  April 13, 2015 - 4:24 pm

        English is capitalized as are all other languages. BTW-I’m posting this information because it is important for new English learners to be aware of this fact. Thank you.

    • Deb -  January 21, 2015 - 6:49 am

      You are sooooooo intelligent Mr Right (schwackmaster).
      As fabio202 has said, it could be useful for nonnative speakers of English.
      I don’t know if you have ever tried to learn other languages, so let me inform you: there are some words that can be hard to learn. For example, in Spanish, these two words “sensato” and “sensible”. “Sensato” means sensible in English, while “sensible” is sensitive.

      I think is incredible some people could laugh at someone’s work for considering it “childish” or “basical”, or laugh at someone’s knowledge.

      • Kathy Robertson -  February 19, 2015 - 2:47 pm

        Another slightly confusing pair in Spanish-
        book is libro
        library is biblioteca

        (and in French libre is free, go figure.)

        • clare mfantse -  February 28, 2015 - 3:39 pm

          my french teacher told us about the latin roots of books, library, etc., and it made perfect sense. think of how the target language relates — not considering it from an english point of view (no, i do not capitalize unless necessary. feel free to argue about it).

        • jeff -  April 18, 2015 - 4:55 pm

          ?Como se llama ?y ?como su nombre?….can get very differen answers. Also, how come some people can say “orita”and mean “right now”.That same person can say “right now ” and mean ” in a little while.?

    • geo -  January 28, 2015 - 4:56 pm

      Feel better now?

      If this is so trivial, why did you bother to read the article? Do you search the web looking for articles with topics you know all about, just so you can let everyone know how smart you are?

      If so, then you should probably seek professional help.

      • You -  April 17, 2015 - 7:06 am

        Oh shut up. Don’t act like you wouldn’t do the same thing in his shoes. In fact, you ARE doing the same thing, in a different context. You’re trying to show off to everyone how awesome of a person you are by looking for people who say anything that could be taken the wrong way, and telling them off so that people think ‘Oh wow, this person is such a cool guy!’

    • Johnny English -  January 29, 2015 - 9:16 am

      Of course, the part that made me chuckle over the entire exchange is that schwackmaster writes, “raise YOU hand” {emphasis mine}.

      Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to…typographical errors?

      No reason to jump down your throat over it though, schwackmaster. I understand that your frustration manifested as derisive ire instead of constructive criticism. We all have those days where we want to throat-punch the entire Internet.

      Can everyone just agree to chalk it up to differing viewpoints though?

    • Mary Jane -  February 1, 2015 - 11:54 am

      Do you feel any better now?

    • amanda k -  February 7, 2015 - 7:44 pm

      Huh? Why would people raise their hands? Are you saying everyone should know this, or no one would know this? And apparently everyone else gets this, but I sincerely don’t understand what you’re trying to say.

    • Pollito -  April 17, 2015 - 1:25 pm

      Does anybody feel like eating tacos? Put them on my tab and have a great time.

  53. Emeka Ejikeme -  December 24, 2014 - 6:11 am

    This dictionary is very good. But the people who will benefit most from it may not have access to Internet.

    • Juanito -  December 30, 2014 - 5:50 am

      Please use the Public Library! Most of these time honored institutions have computers available for library card holders. No card? Sign up for them on the spot!

      • You -  April 17, 2015 - 7:09 am

        Not everyone is able to get to a library. There are people who live miles away from anything, and don’t have a car.
        Don’t try to put down those who don’t have access to technology by calling them lazy- just because YOU can walk to the library doesn’t mean that everyone can.

    • Mute point,that goes without saying,in that case would never need it. Smartphones have dictionaries -and not so smart people (like me) use them instead of presuming. -  January 20, 2015 - 12:08 pm

      like me) use them instead of presuming.

      • Valerie Blais -  January 22, 2015 - 4:59 pm

        Moot point. Mute is without voice, moot is without relevance to the reality of the situation.

        • Madra Rhu -  August 10, 2015 - 8:53 am

          Ahhh an example of the english language dividing two nations who speak it.
          Moot (Mu:t)
          an adjective that in English english means “subject to debate, dispute or uncertainty”
          North American means “having little or no practical relevance”

          used as a verb = to raise a topic or question for discussion
          or a noun = an assembly or meeting to discuss a particular topic or mock judicial trial to test a hypothetical case
          etymology is old english mot = to meet, motian = to converse

          We got here because ‘discreet’ and ‘discrete’ were subject to the English, english meaning whilst the debate about them has at times fallen into the North American meaning.

      • You -  April 15, 2015 - 6:26 am

        If you’re going to call yourself smart, you need to not only be able to KNOW the ‘big words’ (like presume) which everyone knows anyways, but you need to be able to SPELL them (it’s moot, not mute)

  54. Col -  December 21, 2014 - 5:05 am

    So “discreet” and “discrete” are discrete words?

    I best be discreet and not mention this to my wife or she’ll very upset that she’s had it wrong all these years.

    • farida -  December 24, 2014 - 8:56 am

      very well said . excellen

    • Jamie -  January 7, 2015 - 6:27 am

      Look at you, clever fellow.

    • Trevor -  February 17, 2015 - 8:30 am

      I’d best (I had best) be disceet… not I best be disceet…

      • ranga veeravalli -  March 13, 2015 - 6:45 pm

        wouldnt it be, “i would best be discreet…”?

  55. omworo josephat -  December 20, 2014 - 11:00 am

    i only came to know the clear meaning of discrete in my second year in college when i did probability and statistics,discrete and continuoua random variables

    • Jim -  January 3, 2015 - 8:19 pm

      OIC. Now, if “discretion” relates to “discreet”, what relates to “discrete”? Ahh … “Discernment”?

      • Max -  January 11, 2015 - 8:57 am

        According to the article “Discreteness”.

  56. Broken -  December 17, 2014 - 3:26 am

    I have seen this mistake in books and my teachers make this all the time!

    • Mary Jane -  February 1, 2015 - 11:56 am

      because it is so “discretionary” a usage…

  57. Aldo Reddi -  December 16, 2014 - 12:29 pm

    In mathematics, discrete function are function that are not continuous. For example to integrate a function with a computer’s program, it cannot be continuous.

  58. Jim Carruthers -  December 11, 2014 - 5:40 pm

    Discrete means separate, individually distinct.
    Well the two ‘e’s are separated by the ‘t’ ie they are separate.
    That’s how I remember the difference between the two homophones
    discrete and discreet.

    • Christina -  December 15, 2014 - 2:08 am

      Jim, I really like that. Honestly, I didn’t even realize these were two separate words; I thought they were alternate spellings of discreet, since I hadn’t encountered “discrete” in context until my children started ABA therapy (which uses discrete trials). I’m going to share your tip with my boys to help broaden their vocabularies.

    • Betsy -  December 15, 2014 - 10:29 pm

      Excellent tip, Jim Carruthers. Thanks!

    • farida -  December 24, 2014 - 8:47 am

      beautiful , v nice way to remeber , its v helpful

    • farida -  December 24, 2014 - 8:50 am

      beautiful , nice, thanx for the tip. nice way to remeber.

    • farida -  December 24, 2014 - 8:54 am

      excellent. my reply to you goes to christina .so just excellent ,

    • Rachel H -  December 28, 2014 - 8:29 am

      Thanks for the tip!

    • kamal -  January 1, 2015 - 5:28 pm


    • Kimberley Carter -  January 19, 2015 - 12:47 pm

      Very nice Jim reminds me of the difference between desert and dessert. I had a teacher tell me that you might want to have 2 desserts, but you probably wouldn’t want to cross more than 1 desert. Help me tons in remembering which word had 2 “s”s and which had only 1 “s”. Very nice indeed. :-)

      • David -  February 7, 2015 - 7:19 pm

        Thanks, Kimberley. I always have to pause to think about that one.

  59. juan -  December 11, 2014 - 10:56 am

    good for youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

  60. dude -  December 10, 2014 - 4:58 pm


    • dude -  December 10, 2014 - 4:59 pm


      ndjkhfghhjgfkgfhjgfgkljffj Bitch

  61. Your Homie -  December 10, 2014 - 4:34 pm

    Thanks Dictionary.com I’m in a spelling bee and some of the words are hard to say and you dictionary people helped sooooo that’s it to say to you dictionary people.I hope I win the spelling bee. Last year I won. :D

    • mansonlamps -  December 12, 2014 - 10:10 am

      Take out the word “dictionary.” Now, what do you mean by “You people”! ;)

      • You -  April 15, 2015 - 6:27 am

        What an irrelevant and stupid thing to say. And it wasn’t even funny.

        • Nik -  February 29, 2016 - 5:46 pm

          I thought it was funny, but if you’re looking for irrelevance take a look at your own comment.

      • sandy pearson -  June 14, 2015 - 8:16 am


  62. mairyn -  December 10, 2014 - 8:07 am

    i am christan, yoda is fake!!!

    • Ree -  October 20, 2015 - 3:33 pm

      Who’s Yoda?

  63. Yahuza Saminu -  December 8, 2014 - 12:31 pm

    The two words are clearly expressed for easy usage.

    • mairyn corey -  December 9, 2014 - 10:52 am

      That makes sense

      Mare In spelled Mairyn

    • mairyn -  December 10, 2014 - 8:02 am

      I love this

  64. Philip -  December 6, 2014 - 12:34 pm

    Just for the record, those poems are limericks, not haikus. But they are very effective an mnemonic devices, thank you!

    • mairyn -  December 10, 2014 - 8:03 am

      true true

  65. Lamthai Long -  December 6, 2014 - 10:13 am

    Now I understand discretely..,

    • rasimpistar -  December 8, 2014 - 4:28 pm

      You are then a discreet person if you did understood, if I did understood.
      (English is somewhat delongated (?) language?

      • mairyn -  December 10, 2014 - 8:04 am

        ha, ha very funny!!

      • fabio202 -  January 20, 2015 - 7:25 am

        Hmmm….”English is somewhat delongated (?) language?”

        That’s what – as an italian – I have been often thinking… particularly since I learned that the italian ‘farla breve’ in english sounded ‘to cut a long story short’.

        Such a looong sentence to… ‘cut a long story short’?


        • Frankie -  January 28, 2015 - 11:05 pm

          You could always go with “in a nutshell?”

        • Lisa -  January 29, 2015 - 3:41 pm

          Actually, the common saying is ‘to make a long story short’. And, yes, that takes more words than in Italian. But to American ears, it sounds right.

          • ti -  October 5, 2016 - 11:09 pm

            maybe in america, in uk/england we use the ‘cut’ one

    • mairyn corey -  December 9, 2014 - 10:53 am

      Very cool

    • mairyn -  December 10, 2014 - 8:06 am

      good for you!!!

  66. JohnnyCoolGuy SC COD -  November 22, 2014 - 3:57 am

    To use the words discrete with ease,
    Just think of the discrete E’s

    DiscrEtE haiku poems:

    To use the words with ease.
    Think Lovers as the E’s.
    ‘Cause When they meet,
    They must be discreet.
    When apart, they’re discrete as they please.

    (Get it? If the T is between the two E’s, the E’s are separate. Separate being the definition of the Discrete with the separate E’s. If the two E’s are together with the T at the end the word is discreet as the lovers together. {Sorry I include the plain/simple version due to the Enormity of our education system.})

    ‘Cause, when the loving E’s meet
    Their meeting must be discreet

    I was so discreet
    when My girl I did meet,
    With a throbbing heart,
    I said part!
    And her knees they did discrete!

    I have thought of the E’s. (Ease)
    In which we did please.
    The word’s discreet
    about together our meet. (Meat)
    Now baby names I discrete; G’s from B’s!

    I don’t have time to be discreet about this! I am not a poet. You will have to finish the poems. I must discrete my work time from ‘lost on the internet’ time. :-{)

    • wenwen -  November 30, 2014 - 11:34 am

      great, i will never confuse the meaning of these two words

      • mya -  December 2, 2014 - 6:02 pm

        i do know this website

        • Coco sungie -  December 3, 2014 - 10:44 pm

          Coolies that’s such a good fact

    • Hommy -  December 3, 2014 - 2:14 pm

      WOW! That was awesome, and now I know not to confuse the two again!

    • jeff -  December 5, 2014 - 10:19 am

      word form: discretion, noun.
      discretion is the better part of valor.

    • Don -  December 6, 2014 - 2:16 am

      I’ve often heard the term “discrete components” in electronics. There wasn’t anything secret about them, so I wondered what made them discrete. Now I know the difference.

    • possum -  December 7, 2014 - 7:01 pm

      NB: These are Limerick poems NOT Haiku poems.

      Great illustration to remember the meanings by

      • mairyn -  December 10, 2014 - 8:09 am


    • Kathtastik -  December 8, 2014 - 4:18 am

      After reading the actual Word Fact article I felt even more confused on the use/definition of discreet and discrete. Thank you very very much JohnnyCoolGuy; your comment and poem was excellent and now I will never forget the proper use of discreet and discrete. Are you a teacher of some sort? I’m just wondering because you knew exactly what to post to help the greatest amount of people never again forget the proper use of discreet and discrete. Thank you!

    • Jennifer Heckert -  July 1, 2016 - 4:12 pm

      Regardless of how one labels the poetry, these sayings are fantastic. They are bawdy enough to grab the attention of many adolescents and some adults as well. I will use these, or perhaps slightly more discreet although hardly discrete versions, with my grandnephews and grandson. I can honestly say I believe they will never forget the difference. LOL.

  67. Nightsworn -  November 18, 2014 - 10:06 am

    So “discrete” and “discreet” became two discrete words?

    • Hommy -  December 3, 2014 - 2:15 pm

      That’s a good way of using it! :)

    • mairyn -  December 10, 2014 - 8:09 am

      your great at this!!!!

    • mairyn -  December 10, 2014 - 8:10 am

      your amazing

      • Jovet -  December 11, 2014 - 8:45 am

        Now we need a Word Fact article on You’re/Your and other Apostrophe Atrocities. :)

  68. Greek 2 me -  November 17, 2014 - 6:26 am

    Those who dis Crete excrete a discreet amount of excrement

    • grim -  November 22, 2014 - 11:21 pm

      …..really you have got to be kidding, I’ll bet pounds to pence it took you a day to think of that……total dross….there you go play with that one…..loss, across there you go i started you off…….

  69. thess eduardo -  November 10, 2014 - 8:01 pm

    Thanx…i think the explanation is clear.i can now confidently use these 2 confusing words,correctly.Some of you guys,are funny!

  70. Tom P. -  October 31, 2014 - 8:23 am

    He was not being discreet when he told her she was a discrete species.

  71. Bryan -  October 23, 2014 - 8:54 am


  72. Tom Pilkington -  October 10, 2014 - 12:48 pm

    Just great!! Now as a writer, I’ll never be able to use the words “discrete” or discreet again. Wish I had never read your confusing explanation of the two words.

    • Christine -  October 15, 2014 - 9:14 pm

      What?? Now I’m really confused and I won’t be discreet or discrete about it!!

      • kayla d. -  October 26, 2014 - 6:17 pm

        “Pizza and ice cream are discrete things.”
        “I was being discreet when i did not mention the past incident.”
        Discrete – not alike
        Discreet – being quiet

        • dot -  December 5, 2014 - 6:46 am

          most excellent example, kayla d

        • Zoe -  December 6, 2014 - 11:43 am

          Excellent clarification. Thanks!

        • Don Carlos -  June 10, 2016 - 6:41 pm


      • rekik -  November 1, 2014 - 5:12 am

        how bout not defining what you dont understand yourself

    • Alma -  October 24, 2014 - 4:24 pm

      Dear Mr. Pilkington, if you, as a writer, are confused, please take pity on me! I’m befuddled,

    • Phil Cose -  October 24, 2014 - 6:31 pm

      I don’t get it, what is confusing about two separate,different words meaning different things ?? some single words have multiple meanings. ie Well. etc.
      It is left to the intelligence of the reader to use it in the proper context.


    • Bob -  October 30, 2014 - 4:42 am

      What confusion? It is perfectly clear when and how to use the two words.

      Are you a writer? Are you sure?

      • awesomelulu -  December 7, 2014 - 5:26 pm

        What??Clearly there is a confusion here!Everybody’s sayin’ they still DON’T know!Including me!

    • Keith Hinchcliffe -  November 9, 2014 - 12:58 pm

      I’m a righter two, and too be honest, if ewe don’t no you’re homophones, aisle suggest yew put the stationary away.

      • Tristan -  November 11, 2014 - 5:57 pm

        To be fair, he never mentioned what type of writer he is, nor his expertise. Perhaps he’s merely a writer of senseless comments on the internet?

        • grim -  November 22, 2014 - 11:38 pm

          isn’t that your job mate, or is it a job share situation, if so I’ll apply…even if the competition is tough

          • Joe -  December 6, 2014 - 4:53 pm

            That was a funny comeback xD

        • ANITA -  December 8, 2014 - 3:51 am


      • grim -  November 22, 2014 - 11:34 pm

        just a hit of cynicism

    • grim -  November 22, 2014 - 11:28 pm

      ….you call yourself a writer, then proceed to air your ignorance……hmmmm i think not, maybe writings not for you…but then again ignorance is the new knowledge hell maybe you have got a shot….you go hard writer boy

      • Derv -  December 27, 2014 - 5:17 am

        how about some punctuation before you berate others on their use of language??

        • Richard -  November 20, 2015 - 1:35 pm

          Thank you Derv.

      • Betsy -  April 25, 2016 - 1:12 pm

        Grim, you write “…..maybe you have got a shot.”???? Either ‘maybe you have a shot’ or ‘maybe you got shot’, but most certainly not what you wrote! And mayhaps you should brush up on your capitalization and punctuation. That is one long run on sentence from someone criticizing someone else.

  73. george -  September 9, 2014 - 7:21 pm

    Looking for name of English usage where the subject is at the end of the sentence. This is used extensively among British soccer commentators; e.g., “They are having a great game, Manchester United”. Or, “His shot was right on target, Wayne Rooney”.

    • Peter R Johnson -  October 10, 2014 - 4:50 am

      Could it be ‘displaced subject’? I’m neologising here…

    • Cali Putsi -  October 13, 2014 - 6:22 am

      I believe it called Poor English.

      • grim -  November 22, 2014 - 11:29 pm

        here here

    • Jim -  October 23, 2014 - 7:57 am

      I have heard something similar from spectators: “Good shot, that man!”

      • Eric -  November 9, 2014 - 8:39 pm

        I think they’ve watched way too much Star Wars. Remember Yoda? Understand you must….

  74. Cyberquill -  September 5, 2014 - 2:32 am

    Here’s another example sentence:

    “Many Greeks diss Crete and vice versa.”

    • Bink LZ -  October 24, 2014 - 9:04 pm

      Gee Thanks for clearing that up..):
      He came here to Dictionary Site to feel the joy of learning and didn’t , Stupider
      I think that’s proper Poor English. .

      • grim -  November 22, 2014 - 11:36 pm

        go hard yoda

        • Harvey Wenschlag -  February 6, 2015 - 5:36 pm

          Good discreet discussion by nice people. The most abused two words used on TV, radio and movies is take and bring. I failed to teach my children how to use these words. They are grown adults now and still do not know the discrete meaning between the words.

          • W.E.Blaak -  May 12, 2015 - 7:09 am

            I will bring it to your attention when they take it again.

          • Betsy -  April 25, 2016 - 1:18 pm

            Oh, Harvey, please, please, please don’t leave out conversate! And, what’s with leaving out the ‘t’ and ‘d’ in words? It’s not ‘shount’ for shouldn’t, ‘count’ for couldn’t, ‘wunt’ for wouldn’t. I could go on, but I won’t. Even news casters do this. My favourite is from one of our local weathermen. He says “Temperatures are in the double digits.” He pronounces digits as ‘dig etts’. Aahhhhhhhh:(

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