Wrong Word Wednesday #45

Every week I will demonstrate an example of poor English where a different word is used from the one intended. Sometimes this creates a grammatically incorrect sentence. Unfortunately, the mistake is usually so pervasive that we all do it and such errors are usually made by those who should know better – journalists working for national or global media outlets such as newspapers and television.

Discreet / Discrete

I had to stop and think about this one yesterday. They are not every day words and they sound identical when pronouncing and their meanings are quite similar so it is not really surprising when we do have to stop and think about the difference. Apparently, the words are Latin in origin and come from the same word which had two meanings.

Discreet – respecting the right to privacy or keeping a secret that has been told to you.

Discrete – Meaning separate or individual. For example, the talent show The X-Factor has four discrete categories – Boys, Girls, Groups and over 25s (is that right?)

In a way they do mean the same thing – the act of keeping something distinct. In one case, information is being kept separate from common knowledge and in the other, the categories are kept separate from each other.

See Daily Writing Tips for more information


4 thoughts on “Wrong Word Wednesday #45

  1. Mariam Tsaturyan

    Wow, I knew the two meanings, but I think I might have spelled them the same way all this time. Thanks for the lesson. This is a great idea for recurring post.

    1. Welcome and thank you Mariam! Feel free to take a look at the others, this feature has been going almost a year now and it’s proving quite popular 🙂

  2. Andrea Freedman

    I always spelled it “discrete” before no matter the context. Thanks for another very helpful Wrong Word Wednesday.

Have something to say? Go on, you know you want to:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s