These two words are not similar in meaning. Confusion comes from the fact they are homonyms. Often, people know which meaning they’re using; they just don’t know there are separate spellings. For this pair, correct usage essentially comes down to remembering the correct spellings.
Discreet: careful in conduct in order to avoid offending someone; unpretentious, unnoticeable
Discrete: individually distinct, separate
Their Usage And Some Examples
✔ Instead of pointing out the stain on my pants in front of everyone, Deborah was discreet and pulled me aside to tell me.
𝗫 A clock is made of discreet parts.
✔ Each person has a discrete fingerprint.
𝗫 She discretely closed the door.
The words have kept their original meanings over time.
Discreet: morally discerning, prudent
Discrete: separate, distinct
However, one interesting thing to note is that the spellings were not set in stone. It wasn’t until about the 1600s that the words maintained rigid, different spellings.
You can ensure you have the right word by remembering “discrete” means “separate” because the “t” separates the “e’s.” Or maybe you’re a spelling bee champion and spelling memorization is a non issue for you. Whatever works. Until next time!