1. Constituting a separate thing: Computers treat time as a series of discrete moments rather than a continuous flow. See Synonyms at distinct.
2. Consisting of unconnected distinct parts: society viewed as a discrete whole of individual agents.
3. Mathematics Defined for a finite or countable set of values; not continuous.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin discrētus, past participle of discernere, to separate; see DISCERN.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.