1. The quality of being discreet; circumspection: "the almost unknown young man who lived in the upper room ... coming and going with discretion" (Doris Lessing).
2. Freedom to act or judge on one's own: All the decisions were left to our discretion.
3. Archaic The ability or power to discern what is responsible or socially appropriate: "She had even condescended to advise him to marry as soon as he could, provided he chose with discretion" (Jane Austen).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus