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Private vs. Discreet: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sumera Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Updated on October 12, 2023
Private pertains to something belonging to a person or not publicly accessible, while Discreet refers to being careful or unobtrusive in one's actions or words to avoid attention.

Key Differences

Private is a term that primarily connotes something that belongs uniquely to an individual or a specific entity. It implies a sense of exclusivity, often away from public scrutiny or access. For instance, a private room in a hotel means it's reserved for the use of a particular guest. On the other hand, Discreet indicates an approach or behavior that is intentionally unobtrusive, subtle, or cautious, especially to avoid drawing attention or causing offense.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023
Discreet also carries with it an element of wisdom and judiciousness in action or speech. For example, if someone shares sensitive information with another and expects that person not to reveal it, they want the recipient to be discreet. Private, in contrast, would refer more to the nature of the information itself being personal or confidential.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023
If you were to attend a private function, it means that it's not open to the general public and only specific people are invited. It speaks of the nature of the event. Whereas if someone advises you to be discreet at a function, they are suggesting that you act or speak in a way that doesn't draw unnecessary attention or cause disruption.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023
To elucidate further, Private settings, information, or belongings are often guarded or kept away from the general view or reach. A private collection of art, for instance, is one that's not on public display. Discreet, however, guides the manner in which one conducts themselves, suggesting subtlety, prudence, and sometimes secrecy. If you're discreet in acquiring art, you might do so without broadcasting your purchases.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

Comparison Chart

Definition

Belonging to an individual or entity, not public.
Being careful or unobtrusive in actions/words.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023
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Focus

Nature or status of something.
Manner or approach of an action.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

Use in Context

Refers to ownership or exclusivity.
Refers to behavior or conduct.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

Typical Usage

Private property, private life.
Discreet inquiries, discreet glance.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

Primary Meaning

Something kept away from general view or use.
Acting with prudence, subtlety, or secrecy.
Sara Rehman
Oct 12, 2023

Private and Discreet Definitions

Private

Relating to one's personal life.
I'd rather keep my health issues private.
Harlon Moss
Oct 12, 2023
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Discreet

Modest or unnoticeable.
She wore a discreet necklace for the formal event.
Janet White
Oct 12, 2023

Private

Not connected to official or public capacities.
He made a private donation to the charity.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

Discreet

Being cautious to protect privacy or secrecy.
Be discreet when discussing the confidential contract.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

Private

Relating to a single individual or entity.
This is a private enterprise, not government-owned.
Sara Rehman
Oct 12, 2023

Discreet

Careful in speech or action to avoid causing offense or to gain advantage.
He made a discreet inquiry about the job vacancy.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

Private

Secluded from the sight, presence, or intrusion of others
A private hideaway.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Discreet

Intentionally unobtrusive.
The security cameras were discreet, almost invisible.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

Private

Designed or intended for one's exclusive use
A private room.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Discreet

Showing discernment or good judgment in conduct and speech.
She was discreet in her dealings with the media.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 12, 2023

Private

Of or confined to the individual; personal
A private joke.
Private opinions.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Discreet

Possessed of, exercising, or showing prudence and self-restraint in speech and behavior; circumspect
The teacher was discreet in discussing the student's behavior. We followed him but kept a discreet distance.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Undertaken on an individual basis
Private studies.
Private research.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Discreet

Made, done, or situated so as to attract little notice
Made a discreet exit out the back door.
Lovers seeking a discreet place to meet.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Of, relating to, or receiving special hospital services and privileges
A private patient.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Discreet

Respectful of privacy or secrecy; exercising caution in order to avoid causing embarrassment; quiet; diplomatic.
With a discreet gesture, she reminded him to mind his manners.
John just doesn't understand that laughing at Mary all day is not very discreet.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Not available for public use, control, or participation
A private club.
A private party.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Discreet

Not drawing attention, anger or challenge; inconspicuous.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Belonging to a particular person or persons, as opposed to the public or the government
Private property.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Discreet

Possessed of discernment, especially in avoiding error or evil, and in the adaptation of means to ends; prudent; sagacious; judicious; not rash or heedless; cautious.
It is the discreet man, not the witty, nor the learned, nor the brave, who guides the conversation, and gives measures to society.
Satire 's my weapon, but I 'm too discreetTo run amuck, and tilt at all I meet.
The sea is silent, the sea is discreet.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Of, relating to, or derived from nongovernment sources
Private funding.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Discreet

Differing; distinct.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Conducted and supported primarily by individuals or groups not affiliated with governmental agencies or corporations
A private college.
A private sanatorium.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Discreet

Marked by prudence or modesty and wise self-restraint;
His trusted discreet aide
A discreet, finely wrought gold necklace
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Enrolled in or attending a private school
A private student.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Discreet

Unobtrusively perceptive and sympathetic;
A discerning editor
A discreet silence
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Capitalized in shares of stock that are held by a relatively small number of owners and are not traded on the open market
A private company.
A company that went private.
Took a company private.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Discreet

Heedful of potential consequences;
Circumspect actions
Physicians are now more circumspect about recommending its use
A discreet investor
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Not holding an official or public position
A private citizen.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Not for public knowledge or disclosure; secret
Private papers.
A private communication.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Not appropriate for use or display in public; intimate
Private behavior.
A private tragedy.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Placing a high value on personal privacy
A private person.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

A noncommissioned rank in the US Army or Marine Corps that is below private first class.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

One who holds this rank or a similar rank in another military organization.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Privates Private parts. Often used with the.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Belonging to, concerning, or accessible only to an individual person or a specific group.
Her address is private; you can't have it.
Private papers
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Not accessible by the public.
Private property
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Not in governmental office or employment.
He quit public life, living quietly as a private citizen.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Not publicly known; not open; secret.
The identity of the beneficiaries of the trust is private.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Protected from view or disturbance by others; secluded.
Can we go somewhere more private?
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Not traded by the public.
Private corporation
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Secretive; reserved.
He is a very private person.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Not shared with another patient.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Accessible only to the class itself or instances of it, and not to other classes or even subclasses.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

A soldier of the lowest rank in the army.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

A doctor working in privately rather than publicly funded health care.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

The genitals.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

(obsolete) A secret message; a personal unofficial communication.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

(obsolete) Personal interest; particular business.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

(obsolete) Privacy; retirement.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

(obsolete) One not invested with a public office.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

A private lesson.
If you want to learn ballet, consider taking privates.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

To make something hidden from the public (without deleting it permanently).
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Belonging to, or concerning, an individual person, company, or interest; peculiar to one's self; unconnected with others; personal; one's own; not public; not general; separate; as, a man's private opinion; private property; a private purse; private expenses or interests; a private secretary.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Sequestered from company or observation; appropriated to an individual; secret; secluded; lonely; solitary; as, a private room or apartment; private prayer.
Reason . . . then retiresInto her private cell when nature rests.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Not invested with, or engaged in, public office or employment; as, a private citizen; private life.
A private person may arrest a felon.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Not publicly known; not open; secret; as, a private negotiation; a private understanding.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Having secret or private knowledge; privy.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

A secret message; a personal unofficial communication.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Personal interest; particular business.
Nor must I be unmindful of my private.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Privacy; retirement.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

One not invested with a public office.
What have kings, that privates have not too?
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

A common soldier; a soldier below the grade of a noncommissioned officer.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

The private parts; the genitals.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

An enlisted man of the lowest rank;
Our prisoner was just a private and knew nothing of value
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Confined to particular persons or groups or providing privacy;
A private place
Private discussions
Private lessons
A private club
A private secretary
Private property
The former President is now a private citizen
Public figures struggle to maintain a private life
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Concerning things deeply private and personal;
Private correspondence
Private family matters
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Concerning one person exclusively;
We all have individual cars
Each room has a private bath
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Not expressed;
Secret (or private) thoughts
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 22, 2023

Private

Not publicly available; exclusive to specific people.
The beach is private, reserved only for hotel guests.
Sara Rehman
Oct 12, 2023

Private

Secluded from the presence or view of others.
She retreated to a private corner to read her book.
Janet White
Oct 12, 2023

FAQs

What does Private primarily imply?

Private primarily indicates something exclusive to an individual or not publicly accessible.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

What's a discreet gesture?

A gesture done subtly, without drawing much attention.
Harlon Moss
Oct 12, 2023

How does Discreet relate to behavior?

Discreet refers to being careful, subtle, or cautious in actions or speech.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

Can a public place have private areas?

Yes, a public place like a restaurant might have private dining rooms.
Janet White
Oct 12, 2023

When should one be discreet?

One should be discreet when subtlety or confidentiality is required.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

Is a private room open to everyone?

No, a private room is reserved and not open to everyone.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

Can a public figure have a private life?

Yes, aspects of their life they choose not to share publicly.
Janet White
Oct 12, 2023

What's a private institution?

A private institution is independently funded, not by the government.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

Can someone be discreet online?

Yes, by avoiding oversharing or posting sensitive information.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

What's the opposite of private in context to ownership?

Public, as in public vs. private ownership.
Sara Rehman
Oct 12, 2023

Can discretion be viewed negatively?

Sometimes, if seen as sneaky or deceptive.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

Can information be both private and discreet?

Yes, if it's confidential (private) and shared subtly (discreetly).
Harlon Moss
Oct 12, 2023

Is being discreet always about secrecy?

No, it can also be about subtlety or avoiding offense.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

Is a private collection open for public viewing?

Typically no, a private collection is for the owner's viewing or select individuals.
Harlon Moss
Oct 12, 2023

Are private schools funded by the government?

Typically, private schools are independently funded, not by the government.
Sara Rehman
Oct 12, 2023

What's a synonym for discreet?

Tactful or cautious can be synonyms for discreet.
Sara Rehman
Oct 12, 2023

Are private messages visible to all?

No, private messages are typically seen only by the sender and recipient.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

Why might someone need to be discreet at work?

To protect business secrets or avoid office gossip.
Harlon Moss
Oct 12, 2023

What's a discreet way to inquire about a sensitive topic?

Asking gently, in private, and ensuring the other person feels safe.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 12, 2023

How can businesses be discreet?

By protecting client information and handling matters confidentially.
Harlon Moss
Oct 12, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.

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