What does discretion mean?

Definitions for discretion
dɪˈskrɛʃ əndis·cre·tion

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word discretion.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. discretionnoun

    freedom to act or judge on one's own

  2. discretion, discreetness, circumspection, prudencenoun

    knowing how to avoid embarrassment or distress

    "the servants showed great tact and discretion"

  3. delicacy, discretionnoun

    refined taste; tact

  4. free will, discretionnoun

    the power of making free choices unconstrained by external agencies

  5. discretion, discernmentnoun

    the trait of judging wisely and objectively

    "a man of discernment"


  1. discretionnoun

    The quality of being discreet or circumspect

    Bob showed great discretion despite his knowledge of the affair.

  2. discretionnoun

    The ability to make wise choices or decisions

  3. discretionnoun

    The freedom to make one's own judgements

    I leave that to your discretion.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Discretionnoun

    Etymology: from discretio, Latin.

    Nothing then was further thought upon for the manner of governing; but all permitted unto their wisdom and discretion which were to rule. Richard Hooker, b. i. s. 10.

    A knife may be taken away from a child, without depriving them of the benefits thereof, which have years and discretion to use it. Richard Hooker, b. iv. s. 12.

    It is not good that children should know any wickedness: old folks, you know, have discretion, as they say, and know the world. William Shakespeare, Merry Wives of Windsor.

    All this was order’d by the good discretion
    Of the right reverend cardinal of York. William Shakespeare, Hen. VIII.

    The pleasure of commanding our passions is to be preferred before any sensual pleasure; because it is the pleasure of wisdom and discretion. John Tillotson.

    But care in poetry must still be had,
    It asks discretion, ev’n in running mad. Alexander Pope, Ess. on Crit.

    There is no talent so useful towards rising in the world, or which puts men more out of the reach of fortune than discretion, a species of lower prudence. Jonathan Swift.


  1. Discretion

    Discretion has the meaning of acting on one's own authority and judgment. In law, discretion as to legal rulings, such as whether evidence is excluded at a trial, may be exercised by a judge. Some view discretion negatively, while some view it positively. Discretion exists at all levels of law enforcement and in many types of front-line bureaucrats. Discretion has been called "the Art of suiting the action to particular circumstances" (Lord Scarman). Those in a position of power are most often able to exercise discretion as to how they will apply or exercise that power. The ability to make decisions which represent a responsible choice and for which an understanding of what is lawful, right or wise may be presupposed.


  1. discretion

    Discretion is the ability to make sound judgments or decisions based on careful consideration of various factors, while keeping certain information, actions, or opinions confidential or private as deemed appropriate. It involves exercising caution and prudence to take appropriate actions or refrain from revealing certain things in order to respect privacy, maintain confidentiality, avoid causing harm, or maintain professional integrity.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Discretionnoun

    disjunction; separation

  2. Discretionnoun

    the quality of being discreet; wise conduct and management; cautious discernment, especially as to matters of propriety and self-control; prudence; circumspection; wariness

  3. Discretionnoun


  4. Discretionnoun

    freedom to act according to one's own judgment; unrestrained exercise of choice or will

  5. Etymology: [F. discrtion, L. discretio separation, difference, discernment, fr. discernere, discretum. See Discreet, Discern.]


  1. Discretion

    Discretion is a noun in the English language with several meanings revolving around the judgment of the person exercising the characteristic.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Discretion

    dis-kresh′un, n. quality of being discreet: prudence: liberty to act at pleasure.—adjs. Discre′tional, Discre′tionary, left to discretion: unrestricted,—advs. Discre′tionally, Discre′tionarily.—Age, Years, of discretion, mature years; At discretion, according to one's own judgment; Be at one's discretion, to be completely under another person's power or control; Surrender at discretion, to surrender unconditionally, that is, to another's discretion. [Through Fr. from L. discretion-em, discernĕre, -crētum.]

The Foolish Dictionary, by Gideon Wurdz


    An instinctive perception that enables us to say, "Oh, shut up!" to the small, weak man, and "I beg your pardon, but I do not entirely agree with your views," to the large, strong one.

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. discretion

    To surrender at discretion, implies an unconditional yielding to the mercy of the conquerors.

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. discretion

    Se rendre à discrétion, surrendering unconditionally to a victorious enemy.

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'discretion' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #4648

  2. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'discretion' in Nouns Frequency: #1912

Anagrams for discretion »

  1. directions

  2. soricident

How to pronounce discretion?

How to say discretion in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of discretion in Chaldean Numerology is: 8

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of discretion in Pythagorean Numerology is: 8

Examples of discretion in a Sentence

  1. Executive Director Kristen Amundson:

    But it is always better if school administrators use good judgment and discretion, that's how we end up not having to hear a case of a kindergartner who brought a little paring knife to school suddenly being recommended for expulsion for bringing a weapon to school.

  2. Chuck Grassley:

    The Obama administration claims that it is using ‘prosecutorial discretion’ to prioritize the removal of criminal aliens from this country, but this report shows the disturbing truth: 1,000 undocumented aliens previously convicted of crimes who the administration released in 2013 have gone on to commit further crimes in our communities.

  3. Thomas Jefferson:

    I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.

  4. Joel Kurtzberg:

    I worry about future administrations, now there's bad precedent, and not every executive branch in the future will exercise their discretion the way this one did. It didn't have to go this way.

  5. La Bruyere:

    Discretion is the perfection of reason, and a guide to us in all the duties of life.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for discretion

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • حرية التصرفArabic
  • преценка, благоразумие, усмотрение, дискретностBulgarian
  • možnost uvážení, soudnost, ohleduplnost, diskrétnost, uvážlivost, možnost se rozhodnoutCzech
  • pwyllWelsh
  • DiskretionGerman
  • اختیارPersian
  • hienotunteisuus, tahdikkuus, harkintakyky, hienovaraisuus, tilannetaju, oma harkintaFinnish
  • discrétionFrench
  • विवेकHindi
  • riservatezza, discrezione, discernimentoItalian
  • 신중Korean
  • discretieDutch
  • diskresjonNorwegian
  • dyskrecjaPolish
  • discriçãoPortuguese
  • maturitate, libertate de decizie, rezervă, discrețieRomanian
  • [[свобода]] [[действие, прозорливость, усмотрение, осмотрительностьRussian
  • omdöme, diskretionSwedish
  • சுயேச்சையானTamil
  • విచక్షణతోTelugu
  • صوابدیدUrdu
  • 慎重Chinese

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"discretion." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 28 Nov. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/discretion>.

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