Discrete Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

Discrete is a word with a lot of uses in the modern world — here’s everything you need to know about the meanings of discrete!

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One of the most exciting things about the English language is that words can have countless meanings. As time passes and languages change to suit modern cultures, new meanings for old words arise. 

One of the words that best exhibits this is “discrete.” Even though it doesn’t have many meanings, it has multiple uses depending on its context. If you don’t know how the word works, its use can often be unclear or confusing, so learning more about it can help you to use your vocabulary in the best way possible. 

Here is everything you need to know about using the word discrete correctly, including its meaning, etymology, and proper modern contextual usages. 

What Does the Word Discrete Mean? 

The word discrete (dɪˈskrit, dɪˈskriːt, dĭ-skrēt, dis-crete), despite having a variety of different meanings, has one purpose that is most primarily used. It is a word that describes a separate entity fundamentally other than the thing it is modifying. For example, a discrete part of something is an entity directly attached to the main thing but not fundamentally a part of it. 

This definition extends into many contexts with different meanings. One of the other primary meanings describes something that can be perceived as not being connected to something else. Fundamentally, the term is most commonly used to tell the difference between two separate things in both form and function. 

Another essential thing to know about the word discrete is that it is commonly confused with another word that sounds the same but is spelled slightly differently — the word discreet. 

Discreet means something trying to be unobtrusive and overlooked so that it doesn’t attract any alarm or notice from anyone. While the meanings are reasonably different between these two words, they still bear many similarities in how they look and sound. 

Where Does the Word Discrete Come From? 

Like many other words in the American English language, the word discrete primarily has its origins in ancient Latin and a handful of other romance languages like French. Most scholars and linguists tend to agree that this word was first seen in the Latin discrētus, which meant “to sift.” 

As time went on, the word moved around into various romantic languages around the time of the Middle Ages in the form of discrete. Obviously, as time went on and the word entered Middle English, the word retained its form almost entirely and became the modern English word discrete that we know today. 

How To Use the Word Discrete in Modern Day Language

In the modern world, there are a lot of common usages for the word discrete. Since the word is made up of so many small parts, understand how to identify them using your language. 

The word discrete is often used when describing individual electronic components. These discrete units work together but are fundamentally different in how they execute their functions. This also happens in the context of discrete graphics, when a computer with a graphics card isn’t built into it in a fully integrated way. This is a great way to describe the different types of topology that go into a computer’s architecture. 

In the audio world, discrete channels are used to describe separate channels of audio that all work together but are all entirely able to be separated by a mixer. In the world of mathematics and engineering, discrete variables are commonly used within the context of identifying different numbers and integers. 

When something is split into multiple parts, it is often referred to as being divided into discrete divisions. At the end of the day, the word discrete describes separate pieces usually found together but aren’t actually the same thing. 

Example Sentences Using the Word Discrete

While one of the most common ways to figure out how to use a word is by looking in a thesaurus for word lists of synonyms and antonyms, we do it differently at The Word Counter. Here, we believe in the power of using example sentences to help inform people what words mean! It’s how people learn how to speak as children, and we believe it’s still one of the most effective ways to learn how to do it as adults. 

Here are some great example sentences to deepen your understanding of this word: 

All of the discrete particles fit together excitingly in the word of the day yesterday. 

The random house had lots of discrete structures on its property, which made the entire topological space much more beautiful. 

The discrete elements made the computer much more effective and powerful when used for video editing. 

The discrete graphics card on my desktop computer made it so that I could play all of the latest video games! 

They somehow managed to fit all discrete elements into one enclosure, which helped make the computer IBX-sized. 


Here at The Word Counter, we believe that one of the best things that a person can do for themselves is to increase their ability to communicate. One of the best ways to do that is by learning about individual words and how to use them in the most appropriate and effective ways possible. That in and of itself is why we’ve made our blog and are constantly uploading new articles to it all the time! 

If you want to expand your own ways of communicating in the modern world, feel free to look around our blog right here


  1. Discrete Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.com
  2. Discrete – Definition, Meaning & Synonyms | Vocabulary.com
  3. Discrete definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary