2
  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.

Is it correct to 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.


  1. 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)

Is it correct to use discreet in this case?


  1. 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)

Is it correct to use discreet in this case?

Thank you very much. :)



About the research that I have done

I'm afraid it might affect people's answers if I put my findings here. Anyway I looked it up in 5 dictionaries before I asked this question. None of them gave a clear answer to the questions I asked.

Dictionaries seem to suggest I could use the word in the above cases. It is what Collins dictionary says, "If you are discreet, you are polite and careful in what you do or say, because you want to avoid embarrassing or offending someone."

According to my own limited experience, I believe discreet means more than just that. I don't think native speakers will say it that way. It is wrong but this is what dictionaries say.

Are dictionaries wrong?

closed as off-topic by lbf, Jason Bassford, AmE speaker, Hot Licks, AndyT Aug 14 '18 at 9:45

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    I don't see how the answer "no" is "euphemistic" when it is direct. Never mind the "internet search", what do dictionaries say about discreet? – Weather Vane Aug 13 '18 at 22:21
  • There is no euphemism in discretion, only in its execution. – Lawrence Aug 13 '18 at 23:15
  • Being discreet is more about doing something in a way that people don't notice. Saying no in a discreet way doesn't really make sense, because no one would hear it. :-) So — discreet is not the same as tactful. So you'd say no in a polite or tactful way; it's not polite to ask a woman's age; it would be more appropriate for you not to come to the party. – ralph.m Aug 14 '18 at 2:07
  • 1
    It would only make sense to say no discreetly if you were just saying it just for one or more select people to hear, so that no one else could hear you saying it. (That would be a way not to embarrass the person you were saying no to publicly.) – ralph.m Aug 14 '18 at 2:12
  • #ralph.m According to my dictionary 'discreet' can mean 'tactful'. (Pocket Oxford: 1. Circumspect. 2. Tactful. 3. Unobtrusive.) – Kate Bunting Aug 14 '18 at 8:33