in a discreet way

Discussion in 'English Only' started by UnflinchingWarrior, Aug 10, 2018.

  1. UnflinchingWarrior

    UnflinchingWarrior New Member

    Cantonese
    1. Could the word "discreet" be used to mean like "tactful" or "euphemistic"?

    Example: Try to say no in a discreet way (i.e. say no in a careful and euphemistic way so as not to upset/offend someone even if you are rejecting them)
    Say: Sorry I'm very busy recently. I'm afraid I couldn't help you.
    Don't say: No, I won't help you.

    Could I use discreet in this case? Discreet seems to mean more than just tactful/euphemistic to me. I searched on the Internet and couldn't find an example which is used to mean that.

    I simply say no in a polite and euphemistic way. I didn't say no in a way which is not easily noticed. I wonder if it has to carry the meaning of tactful but in a way of keeping a low profile or keeping secret. You shouldn't use "discreet" if you are tactful in other ways.


    2. It is not discreet of you to ask a female how much she weigh. (i.e. it is rude to ask a female directly how much she weigh)

    Could I use discreet in this case?


    3. It would be more discreet if you don't come to the party. (i.e. your coming will lead to embarrassing situation. It is a smart and careful move not to show up in order to avoid such embarrassment)

    Could I use discreet in this case?

    Thank you very much. :)
     
  2. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    Cheshire
    English / England
    Just say polite.
     
  3. UnflinchingWarrior

    UnflinchingWarrior New Member

    Cantonese
    Thank you for your reply.
    I know there are other (better) words available as alternatives, but my main concern is whether I could use the word "discreet" in the above cases.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
  4. Glenfarclas Senior Member

    Chicago
    English (American)
    Not really. To me, "discreet" carries a nuance of "not revealing too much." It's not a general synonym for "polite."
     
  5. UnflinchingWarrior

    UnflinchingWarrior New Member

    Cantonese
    So do you think it is incorrect to use the word "discreet" in the above 3 cases?
    None of them carries a nuance of "not revealing too much".
     
  6. Glenfarclas Senior Member

    Chicago
    English (American)
    It's the wrong word in the contexts you propose.
     
  7. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    Cheshire
    English / England
    This is/was and always will be the answer to your question.
    Discrete has no place in any of your sentences.
     
  8. UnflinchingWarrior

    UnflinchingWarrior New Member

    Cantonese
    Thank you for your reply. This is what I guess too.
     
  9. UnflinchingWarrior

    UnflinchingWarrior New Member

    Cantonese
    I have such a doubt because of this entry in the Collins dictionary.

    discreet
    adjective
    1. If you are discreet, you are polite and careful in what you do or say, because you want to avoid embarrassing or offending someone.
    They were gossipy and not always discreet.
    He followed at a discreet distance.

    Other dictionaries have similar explanations too.

    They seem to suggest I could use them in the above cases.

    Perhaps it is a bit risky to learn English words just by looking them up in a dictionary. o_O
     
  10. Glenfarclas Senior Member

    Chicago
    English (American)
    They were gossipy and not always discreet. -- Because their gossip revealed too much.
    He followed at a discreet distance. -- He was distant enough so as not to let on that he was following.
     
  11. UnflinchingWarrior

    UnflinchingWarrior New Member

    Cantonese
    Thank you. It is weird Collins put those examples under that meaning. They have nothing to do with it.

    This is what Longman says:
    1. careful about what you say or do, so that you do not offend, upset, or embarrass people or tell secrets (OPP indiscreet)
    He assured her that he would be discreet.
    I stood back at a discreet distance.

    Bad examples?
     
  12. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    Cheshire
    English / England
    Dictionaries obviously have an important role to play, and can give you examples of sentences, but you are probably trying too hard to find “alternatives” where we do not bother.
    If you want to see a new word in context it’s easy enough to use the internet to find examples of the word you are studying in use.
     
  13. UnflinchingWarrior

    UnflinchingWarrior New Member

    Cantonese
    Actually I was trying to learn the word "discreet" at that time. I didn't think "discreet" could use in the sense suggested in the dictionaries.

    Dictionaries write down every possible meaning of a word but how could I know which meaning is common, which is rare?

    Thanks for your reply.
     

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