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While you may be more familiar with one of these words than the other, the second is not a misspelling. Discreet and discrete are both perfectly spelled English words with the same pronunciation, yet different meanings.
Short and Sweet: Discreet vs. Discrete
Discreet and discrete are both adjectives, and they are unrelated to each another.
- Discreet is related to discretion. It means subtle, or with good judgement.
- Discrete means distinct, individual, or separate.
These definitions are cursory, so continue reading for more in-depth discussions of the meanings of these words. I have provided some example sentences to demonstrate how to use discreet or discrete, as well as a trick for remembering which one is which!
What Does Discreet Mean?
Meaning of Discreet: Discreet is an adjective that typically means prudent. If someone is showing discretion, that means he or she is using good judgement.
- I trust you to be discreet with this sensitive information.
- These rules are really more like guidelines, so use your discretion.
Discreet also has connotations of modesty and/or subtlety. If something is done discreetly, it is done without calling attention to it.
- Adult and private items often come in discreet packaging to avoid embarrassing the customers. > modest, subtle
- Students who arrive late to class try to sit down as discreetly as possible, but the whole class turns around to look at them anyway. > subtle, unnoticeable
What Does Discrete Mean?
Meaning of Discrete: Discrete, while sounding identical to discreet, has a completely different meaning. Something that is discrete is noncontinuous or unconnected, or it can be made up of separate individual components. “Distinct” and “individual” are good synonyms for discrete.
- Rather than keeping a theme, the artist filled her gallery with discreet
- A series of discreet signs posted in a row can sometimes draw more attention than a single, large sign.
Discrete is often used in discussions about how isolated events or variables affect each other, and whether or not they create a narrative. Discreet is also frequently used to refer to individual sections, emphasizing their separateness.
- The dock is made of 10 discrete sections.
Discrete vs. Discreet: Write 101 Memory Trick
Remembering how to spell discrete or discreet can be tricky since their spellings are so similar.
- Discrete refers to items that are separate. The two “E”s in discrete are separated by the “T,” rather than appearing together.
- Discreet is spelled with a double “E,” like in the word “street.” Someone who is able to be discreet, or use good judgment, has street smarts.
Recap: When to Use Discreet and Discrete
While both of these words sound the same, their meanings are distinct and never overlap.
- Use discreet to describe something that is subtle or in good taste.
- Use discrete to mean individual or unconnected.
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Both break and brake are correct spellings, yet the two words have different definitions. Whether you should use break or brake depends on the context in your writing.
Short and Sweet: Break vs. Brake
Both break and brake can be either a verb or a noun.
- As a verb, break means to render a whole into pieces. The past tense of break is broke. As a noun, break identifies the point at which the pieces separated.
- As a verb, brake means to slow down or stop. The past tense of brake is braked. As a noun a brake is a mechanism used to slow something down.
What Does Break Mean?
Meaning of Break: Break has two uses: as a verb and a noun. Both are related to each other, so let’s take a look at them.
Break as a verb. Often, break means to damage or destroy. In other contexts, it simply means to interrupt or deliberately separate into pieces.
- If you break a dish on the floor, be sure to sweep up all the little shards.
- Break the chocolate bar in half so we can share it.
People can break non-physical things, too. Break means to violate or disrupt, as in break a pattern, break a habit, break the law, break a spell, break the silence, or break someone’s concentration.
The verb break also means to simplify or deliberately separate into more manageable parts.
- The textbook breaks each chapter down into smaller sections.
- Can you break this 20 dollar bill for me? I need two fives and a ten.
Break is used in many other contexts and phrases. One can break bad news, break into a house, break in new shoes, break (tame) a horse, break a sweat, and break a fever, to name a few. The most common use, however, has to do with separating pieces, e.g., You broke the window.
Break as a noun. A break is the point of fracture.
- On the x-ray you can see the break in the bone.
- Through a break in the crowd, I could see the other side of the square.
Also, break is very commonly used to mean a “time out” from an activity. Whether you are at work, class, or the gym, many people take breaks to break up an activity into shorter stretches of time.
- You can take your lunch break at 1:00.
- It’s a good technique to take a 10-minute break after 30 minutes of studying.
What Does Brake Mean?
Meaning of Brake: Brake is much simpler verb. It means to slow or stop the motion of an object. Most commonly this refers heavy machinery, such as a car.
- She braked hard driving down the hill.
- I always brake for squirrels when they run into the road.
This can be confusing because a car can both brake and break. If your car brakes, that’s good; braking is a vital function of any vehicle. It’s not good if your car breaks. That means costly repairs at the mechanic!
As a noun, a brake, or the brakes, is the physical mechanism that causes something to slow or stop.
- There is always an emergency brake on the side of a trash compactor.
- I need to replace the brakes on my bike.
While it usually refers to a moving machine, brake can sometimes be used metaphorically.
- Let’s put the brakes on this project until we can raise more funding.
Brake vs. Break: How to Remember the Difference
The way to remember whether to use brake or break is with some imagery.
Imagine you are in a car that is headed straight for a lake. You need to hit the brakes to stop the car! When a faucet breaks it springs a leak, and needs to be fixed!
Recap: When to Use Break and Brake
Use brake only for slowing or stopping something in motion. Break has many uses, almost always meaning that something is disrupted, damaged, or divided into pieces.
You want someone to bear with you, but you’re not sure how to spell it—bare with me or bear with me? Does it matter? It should matter because only one of these spellings is correct in this phrase. Short and Sweet: Bear with me vs. […]
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This article deals with a pair of English homophones, which are words with different spellings and meanings but identical pronunciations.
Neither aisle nor isle is spelled as it sounds, since both have a silent “S.” This makes the words a bit confusing in the first place. Add on top of this that despite their different spellings, they sound the same as each other.
Fortunately, however, this article clearly outlines how to use aisle or isle properly.
Short and Sweet: Aisle vs. Isle
Aisle and isle are both nouns.
- An aisle is a walkway between two areas, such as rows of seats or sets of shelving.
- An isle is an island.
Read on for more in depth definitions of these nouns, as well as example sentences and a simple trick for remembering whether to use isle or aisle in your writing.
What Does Aisle Mean?
Meaning of Aisle: The “AI” vowel pairing does not usually make the long “I” sound in English, but it does in aisle. The “A” comes from French “aile” and Latin “ala,” both meaning “wing.”
In English, aisle is a noun meaning a path or walkway separating two sections of rows of seats or shelving.
- The flower girl walks down the aisle first to throw petals for the bride.
- The aisles on airplanes are too narrow, making it hard to not hit seated passengers with your bags.
- At the grocery store, you can usually find chocolate chips in the aisle with the baking stuff.
- Pedestrians in the warehouse aisles need to be careful and watch out for forklifts!
An aisle is simply a walkway, regardless of where it is located. Most commonly, one finds aisles in churches, airplanes, theatres, and grocery stores to separate pews or rows of seating or shelving. Sometimes there are multiple aisles if the seating area is very wide, like in a large theatre or stadium. Aisles are also the paths in stores between racks or shelves of products and can be found in warehouses between shelves of storage and equipment.
What Does Isle Mean?
Meaning of Isle: Isle is also a noun. It is simply another word for an island, especially a small one. Isle is frequently used in the structure “Isle of ___,” as in “Isle of Wight.” However, isle can also appear at the end in the proper name of an island, as in “Fair Isle.”
- The Summer Isles are a beautiful place to vacation.
- This island is sometimes known as The Isle of Love.
There is not much difference between the synonyms isle and island. However, it is more common to use isle as the proper name of a location and island when referring to a nonspecific island.
Isle vs. Aisle: How to Remember the Difference
An isle is an isolated island!
Aisle differs from isle only by the letter “A.” Remember that in a big area like a theatre or a stadium, an aisle allows you to walk through the middle of the seats, so you don’t have to walk around.
Recap: When to Use Aisle and Isle
An aisle is a walkway between rows or seats or shelves. Aisles are common if churches, theatres, stadiums, etc.
Isle is part of a name of an island.
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