Difficult Words : Discrete, Discreet, Discriminate, Disdain, Disinterested and Disparage

Difficult Words: Discrete, Discreet, Discriminate, Disdain, Disinterested and Disparage

Discreet (di SKREET) adj: Prudent; judiciously reserved

To make discreet inquiries is to ask around without letting the whole world know you're doing it.

The psychiatrist was very discreet; no matter how much we pestered him, he wouldn't gossip about the problems of his famous patients. He had discretion (di SKRESH un).

To be indiscreet is to be imprudent and especially to say or do things you shouldn't.

It was indiscreet of Laura to tell Sally how much she hated Betty's new hairdo, because Sally always tells Betty everything.

When Laura told that to Sally, she committed an indiscretion.


Discrete (di SKREET) adj: unconnected; separate; distinct

Do not confuse discrete with discreet. The twos are identical but their personalities were discrete.

The drop in the stock market was not the result of any single force but of many discrete trends.

When things are all jumbled up together, they are said to be indiscrete, which means not separated or sorted.


Discriminate (di SKRIM uh NATE) v: to notice or point out the difference between two or more things; to discern; to differentiate

A Person with a refined aesthetic sense is able to discriminate subtle differences where a less conversant person is discriminating. This kind of discrimination is a good thing. To discriminate unfairly, though, is to dwell on differences that shouldn't make a difference.

It is unfair-and illegal-to discriminate between black People and white people in selling a house. Such a Practice is not discriminating (which is good) but discriminatory (which is wrong).


Disdain (dis DANE) n: arrogant scorn; contempt

Bertram viewed the hot dog with disdain, believing that to eat such a disgusting food was beneath him.

The millionaire looked upon the poor workmen with evident disdain.

Disdain can also be a verb. The millionaire in the previous example could be said to have disdained those workmen.

To be filled with disdain is to be disdainful.


Disinterested (dis IN tri stid) adj: not taking sides; unbiased

Disinterested should not be used to mean uninterested. If you don't care about knowing something, you are uninterested, not disinterested. A referee should be disinterested. He or she should not be rooting for one of the competing teams.

A disinterested observer is one who has no personal stake in or attachment to what is being observed.

Agatha claimed that the accident had been Lester's fault. But several disinterested witnesses said that Agatha had actually bashed into his car after jumping the median and driving in the wrong lane for several miles.


Disparage (di SPAIR ij) v: to belittle; to say uncomplimentary things about, usually in a somewhat indirect way

The mayor disparaged our efforts to beautify the town square by saying that the flower bed we had planted looked somewhat worse than the weeds it had replaced.

My guidance counselor disparaged my high school record by telling me that not everybody belongs to this college.

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