to discreetly mention that 'discreet' has a discrete meaning from 'discrete'?

(147 Posts)

The one you want for breastfeeding is 'discreet.'

'Discrete' means 'separate from'.

As you were. Except for, you know, the discrete thing.

No wish to offend!
<runs away>

HoHoHoNoYouDont Wed 30-Jan-13 22:53:40

Run faster! grin

Piffpaffpoff Wed 30-Jan-13 22:53:50


Adamit Wed 30-Jan-13 22:53:53

every day's a school day! i embarrassingly didnt realise discrete was actually a word ... thought it was a mispelling.


Can I also point out that alternative and alternate don't mean the same thing.

SanityClause Wed 30-Jan-13 22:56:01

There is a pedants' corner for the likes of us you, you know!

Sunnywithshowers Wed 30-Jan-13 22:56:29

YANBU and fist bump

brumblebee Wed 30-Jan-13 22:57:47

I only got these two sorted out recently. Someone told me that each e in discrete is separate to match the meaning. Discrete: separate or distinct!

Sanity, I know, but I'd be preaching to the converted in there!

wannabedreams Wed 30-Jan-13 22:58:59

well you learn something new every day... thanks :D

plantsitter Wed 30-Jan-13 23:00:49

Ooh ooh a chance to tell everyone my way to remember which is which. 'Crete' is an island... all alone. Gedditt??

Salmotrutta Wed 30-Jan-13 23:01:18


I "heart" IHeartKingThistle- grin

JustAHolyFool Wed 30-Jan-13 23:02:36

Yes, in schools, we teach a discrete phonics session every day.

It doesn't mean that we do it on the sly.

apostropheuse Wed 30-Jan-13 23:04:09


Strangely, akissisnotacontract I was about to post about alternate and alternative too.

I received an e-mail at work today from someone who wanted me to suggest some alternate dates for a meeting! I resisted the urge to correct her query - by not responding as yet. I probably shouldn't say anything.

blackeyedsusan Wed 30-Jan-13 23:04:10

step away from the button olivia/helen/rebecca... at least leave it here for a bit before it gets shifted! grin


jjuice Wed 30-Jan-13 23:07:29

I think I love you

hellsbells76 Wed 30-Jan-13 23:09:11

THANK YOU. Can we do 'lose' v 'loose' now too please?

sparklyjumper Wed 30-Jan-13 23:09:16

Rule to remember it. ee for feeding.

BluelightsAndSirens Wed 30-Jan-13 23:10:24

Oh goodness I thought it was just me.

At work we are emailed weekly for our stationary orders <sits on hands>

BluelightsAndSirens Wed 30-Jan-13 23:12:58

loose as in it was so loose I feared I would lose it?

Salmotrutta Wed 30-Jan-13 23:13:00

Should of put your hard hat on OP in readiness for the "pedant" accusations ...

DD and DS3 have just had stationary/stationery as their spelling words (including knowing when to use which) as well as rein/reign/rain, current/currant etc.

Well, I'm a pedant and always thought that discrete was just bad spelling. Good old MN

gimmecakeandcandy Wed 30-Jan-13 23:15:29

Only three dots for the points of ellipsis...

Not four, five or however many you fancy...


Drives me nuts!

IneedAsockamnesty Wed 30-Jan-13 23:15:32

Given that we are educating tonight can I also add that its not wise to leave bastard arse tiny bits of Lego on the fucking stairs.

Thank you, as you were

BluelightsAndSirens Wed 30-Jan-13 23:16:23

Yes to of instead of have <sigh>

gimmecakeandcandy Wed 30-Jan-13 23:16:33

And no bleedin' space between the dots and the words please...

BluelightsAndSirens Wed 30-Jan-13 23:18:12

Yes as in I agree of is rubbish in place of have...

sparklyjumper Wed 30-Jan-13 23:18:20

stationery because it has an E for envelope

Salmotrutta Wed 30-Jan-13 23:18:24

OMG - I put a space...

<runs away from gimmecake>

This is true. Although one might choose to breastfeed discretely from onlookers, in order to demonsrate that one is a discreet person.

Nagoo Wed 30-Jan-13 23:21:31

Can someone tell Boots? Their maternity pads are discrete. Maybe they are individually wrapped.

I've been annoyed about this in the aftermath of two births, 3 years apart. I'm always a bit busy at the time I see it though, for some reason.

Is it safe to admit I have learnt two things on this thread?

I'm an English teacher

<hangs head in shame>

MsVestibule Wed 30-Jan-13 23:22:39

Wise words sock <nods sagely>

OP, YANBU. I mentally correct everything I ever read. It's not that I'm judging people for not being as good at English as what I am wink but I just can't help but notice. Never been to Pedants Corner; think it would make me even more unbearable than I already am.

apostropheuse Wed 30-Jan-13 23:23:35


You've left me wondering what you've learnt!

ThePathanKhansWitch Wed 30-Jan-13 23:23:58

Ellipsis,eh? ...I,ve told dd they mean... wait and see blush.

Thankyou for discreet/discrete,I had no idea.

I think that ten (or twelve) discrete pads would be more useful (and hygienic) in the long term than one merged super-pad! grin

I'm not admitting it Apostropheuse!

Rest assured I do know how to use apostrophes though smile

I just laughed out loud at the rogue Lego advice.

I remember learning the word 'discrete' in a GCSE maths lesson. Initially, I thought we were doing covert sums. I was genuinely surprised when the teacher explained.

Can we also cover 'etc.'? It's not, 'ect', folks! Stop littering your facebook posts with 'ect'!

hellsbells76 Wed 30-Jan-13 23:35:33

learned not learnt <runs and hides>

WilsonFrickett Wed 30-Jan-13 23:36:29

Atruth I hope it's not about ellipsis. Because that poster was wrong ...

gimmecakeandcandy Wed 30-Jan-13 23:39:10

No! No... Arghh! No space!

bran Wed 30-Jan-13 23:42:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dearcathyandclare Wed 30-Jan-13 23:43:07

I am so appalled that I didn't know this, bit I did know that a pArked cAr is stationAry ( see what I did there!)

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Wed 30-Jan-13 23:43:11

I already know this, thanks to MN and the MN pedants. grin

I also now know how to spell definitely.

MN is very educational.

So when The noun form of “discreet” is “discretion”, as most people use correctly. However, the noun form of “discrete” is not “discretion”, but rather “discreteness”, which often causes yet another grammatical blunder associated with discrete/discreet.

Both “discreet” and “discrete” derive from the Latin “discretus”, meaning “separate, situated, put apart”, which in turn derives from the Late Latin “discernere”, which is also where we get the word “discern”. “Discretus” then gave rise to the Old French “discret”, meaning “sensible, intelligent, wise”, which by the 17th century became “discreet” and came to mean as it does today, “prudent, careful, reserved"

My head hurts, I have had a very stressful and upsetting day...

I accept no responsibility for any advice given on ellipsis. Or Lego.

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Wed 30-Jan-13 23:44:36

I still haven't mastered apostrophes though...... one thing at a time wink

Niiiiiiice, Tapsel!

WilsonFrickett Wed 30-Jan-13 23:46:28

Yes space. It is not a full stop. My iPad prob autocorrected but the correct proofing for an ellipsis is space/full stop/space/full stop/space/full stop/space/any other punctuation or start new sentence

It's like this . . . And then this . . . And if we're using speech 'I said this . . . '

DianaTrent Wed 30-Jan-13 23:47:10

Yes, this annoys me. Every time I read about someone not being 'discrete' I always think of some poor soul living life forever joined as part of a continuum.

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Wed 30-Jan-13 23:47:46

My papers were still = My stationery was stationary

imogengladhart Wed 30-Jan-13 23:48:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hence Discriminate / Discrimination as opposed to discretate and discremation and icecream, etc.

apostropheuse Wed 30-Jan-13 23:53:14

learned not learnt <runs and hides>

Actually learnt is the traditional way of spelling it in "British" English.

Now both spellings seem to be acceptable.

See, when you are a forriner, you learn all these things the hard way.


Me (arriving late to a lecture) "I am sorry I am late, I was held by Professor Pink"
Dr Blue: "Oh, that must have been very nice" "But I think you will find you were held up by Professor Pink"


Me (arriving late to a lecture having seen my gp): "I am sorry I am late, I have been to see my doctor about my nasal constipation"

Professor Red: "Oh poor you, that sounds dreadful, you do mean congestion, dont you?"

Isnt learned a noun rather than past tense of a verb?

As in, my learned friend?

apostropheuse Wed 30-Jan-13 23:57:14

Surely that would be an adjective?

That would be an adjective.

StationEry comes from. stationEr. ConfectionEry comes from a confectionEr.

This ellipsis thing... I still don't geddit. Was the example I just gave correct?

WilsonFrickett Thu 31-Jan-13 00:00:52

Learned and learnt both now acceptable British usage. Just make sure you're consistent. Don't get burned. Or burnt.

WilsonFrickett Thu 31-Jan-13 00:04:52

Nope Georgian but honestly, no-one gets it right in day to day usage. I had to brush up on it for a recent project. The key strokes are as I gave above - space after the word, space between each full stop, space before the next character.

So like this . . . Do you see?

Of course, Apostrophy! Another example for me to bag!

YellowTulips Thu 31-Jan-13 00:15:52

Question: How many of you have read "Eats, Shoots and Leaves"?

Next Question: How may of you a) understood all of it b) retained the information you learned....

Frostyfoxy Thu 31-Jan-13 00:19:27

I also get very confused with passed and past. Sometimes I think I've cracked it and then it all goes blank again! confused

JustAHolyFool Thu 31-Jan-13 00:21:06

I HATED Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

Full of errors, and actually I hate grammar prescriptivism.

Staunch support is needed when one has to stanch a wound.

conantg Thu 31-Jan-13 00:34:39

Well done OP. YANBU.

MrsMeeple Thu 31-Jan-13 01:02:49

blush <read the OP and got confused with excrete. Then wondered "but which spelling means 'unobtrusive'? Because you want that when you're BF too." Sigh. Never mind, I've caught up now.>

<wanted to put an ellipsis in there but didn't dare as there seems to be dissension about whether to leave a space, and whether the dots should have spaces between them.>

AuntieVenom Thu 31-Jan-13 01:30:53

Re the learned vs learnt debate, in English (as in Queen's English)

"learned": a present participle that performs the role of an adjective by qualifying a following noun.
"learnt": a past participle that performs the role of a adjective by qualifying a noun.

These words will be participles only if used along with a helping verb, also called an auxiliary verb like "to be" or "to have". If used without an auxiliary verb, there is a possibility that the word "learnt" is actually a verb and not a participle. This depends entirely upon the sentence structure.

Both these words are derived from the infinitive of the verb "to learn". While "learned" refers to a current state of acquired knowledge of the accusative noun, in this case the the noun following the word "learned"; the word "learnt" refers to a past incident that caused the accusative noun to become aware of something or gain some knowledge.

"Stephen Hawkins is a learned man." [present participle: "learned"; auxiliary verb: "is" (to be)]
"I have learnt a lot of thing by attending this class." [past participle: "learnt"; auxiliary verb: "have" (to have)]
"I learnt about it last night." [verb: "learnt"; auxiliary verb: none, not required, because "learnt" is a verb in it's own right]

If the sentence "I learnt about it last night." sounds confusing as to why "learnt" is a verb, try rephrasing it as "I did learn about it last night.". Although there is a subtle difference between the two sentences, they convey the same meaning.

SaggyOldPregnantCatpuss Thu 31-Jan-13 01:36:38

You all have far too much time on your hands! grin

SaggyOldPregnantCatpuss Thu 31-Jan-13 01:37:54

Although... I have to say, if you commit a crime, you arent hung. You are hanged!

cumfy Thu 31-Jan-13 01:46:06


sashh Thu 31-Jan-13 04:31:51

OK where is the MNetter who wanted to know what she could do apart from teach English?

Oi, over here, we need you

<I hate pacific too, it's an ocean>

YouCanCallMeBetty Thu 31-Jan-13 06:55:01

Has anyone mentioned having a sneak peek at the Peak District?

Hesterton Thu 31-Jan-13 06:57:50

Phrasal verbs must be so confusing for English learners.

Take the verb to pass.

Pass up - hierarchical move upwards through ranks

Pass over - handing something to someone else, or dying

pass by - to leave out deliberately, or move beyond something

pass out - become unconscious or to graduate into the armed services

or to make

make up - reunite after a quarrel, or cosmetics, or apply cosmetics, or invent imaginatively

make over - to be done up (another one) to look lovely

make out - snog and generally get down and dirty

make for - head in a specific direction

make off - run away, or at any rate, leave purposefully

I am full of admiration for anyone who manages to learn English as a second language.

Hesterton Thu 31-Jan-13 06:59:33

Oh and just realised, make out can also mean pretend, lead someone to believe something which isn't quite true.

See, confuses even an English teacher.

RustyBear Thu 31-Jan-13 07:12:12

Can I add the one I saw on a sticker on some pyjamas in M&S?

'3 for 2 on selective items'

Unless they have some very clever clothes, it's 'selected'

Smudging Thu 31-Jan-13 07:16:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Branleuse Thu 31-Jan-13 07:20:09

i didn't know this, thankyou!

Bluestocking Thu 31-Jan-13 07:30:17

Discreet fist bump to OP! This drives me mad. Now let's tackle lose/loose.

Can someone give me a tip for remembering dependent/dependant as I can never remember which is which.

ZillionChocolate Thu 31-Jan-13 07:46:04

My name's Zillion and I struggle with affect/effect and which/that. Any suggestions?

Sashh that was me too! [Grin]



affect almost always means "cause something" or "have an impact on something".

effect almost always means "the result of something".

The acid hail affected her profoundly. For a start, it had caused dints in her scalp, and a disturbing dip dye effect on her hair.

The verb "effect" sort of means "enable, cause" but is quite rare. It normally turns up in the phrase "effect change" which is the politicians' favourite. If in doubt, avoid.

There is also a noun "affect" which is even rarer. Avoid.

In conclusion, if it's a verb (so likely to get -ing or -ed on the end) use "affect" and if it is a noun (attracting adjectives like serious, or articles such an or the) use "effect".

Dependent is the word 99% of the time.

Dependant is only used to refer to people who rely on you financially.

If in doubt, dependent is probably right.

I remember it that dependant is a legal term, as is defendant which is also -ant.

learned isn't a present participle. Present participles end in -ing.

But only because I detest the odious pressure for breastfeeding to be 'discreet'. angry

Otherwise, YADNBU.grin
As you were.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gimmecakeandcandy Thu 31-Jan-13 11:32:22

No... No space... No...

gimmecakeandcandy Thu 31-Jan-13 11:34:38

Ellipsis points can also indicate a pause in speaking or an incomplete or trailing thought by either the writer or the speaker. (A dash can also serve this function.) When an ellipsis falls at the end of a sentence and indicates an incomplete or trailing thought, do not insert a space before the ellipsis points. Doing so could result in a bad line break, with the ellipsis points appearing on the next line by themselves.
You know what they say: If you can’t take the heat…
Backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, hiking boots, more...

SageBush Thu 31-Jan-13 11:45:58

Thank you, OP! The discreet/ discrete problem is my bete noire, with 'lose/ loose' a close second.

I also hate people saying 'nucular' for 'nuclear'.

cumfy Thu 31-Jan-13 12:13:39

Can I just stand around smiling benignly at all the lovely pedants?
No... No space... No...


No room for non-pedants here ..... move along, move along.

<Files in Lost in Translation>

RattyRoland Thu 31-Jan-13 13:27:12

Thanks, learn a new thing every day.

BumpingFuglies Thu 31-Jan-13 13:40:20

Saw this yesterday:


From the County Council shock

13Iggis Thu 31-Jan-13 14:20:49

Loving this thread grin

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Quejica Thu 31-Jan-13 18:18:40

Can I mention practice and practise. In the UK practice is a noun and practise is a verb.
If in doubt try substituting advice and advise in the sentence then use the ce or se ending.


13Iggis Thu 31-Jan-13 23:33:10

I remember practice and practise as follows: the noun has a c and the verb an s - noun is before verb alphabetically, and c is before s. Well it helps me!

<Scuttles off to find a life>

FreshLeticia Thu 31-Jan-13 23:55:52

Love this thread.
It appeals to my inner pedant.
I do love a set of dashes - especially when emphasising the point in arsey emails.

ZillionChocolate Thu 31-Jan-13 23:59:59

Thanks Horatia. All I need now is to remember it/get a lovely tattoo somewhere discreet.

SirIronBottom Fri 01-Feb-13 03:26:00

I would like to add my foghorn to this debate.

Split infinitives are legitimate. Their use is a matter of stylistic preference rather than grammatical rectitude.

The plural of octopus is octopuses, NOT octopi.

HintofBream Fri 01-Feb-13 08:33:29

Yes, SirIN, and of course anyone familiar with Latin knows that the correct plurals are Kleeneces and Tampaces.

evilgiraffe Fri 01-Feb-13 08:52:26

Discreet/discrete has been pissing me off for ages.

And what about been/being? I thought I'd only seen it on MN, but it turns out my friend does it too!

"I never knew been pregnant was such hard work" Arrrrrgh!

aldiwhore Fri 01-Feb-13 08:54:58

Thank you... I always struggle with this one, it's one of those differences that never quite stuck.

Crete is an island all alone. I will discreetly remember that

I like pendants. I would love to be one but make too many errors.

Quejica Fri 01-Feb-13 09:14:33

Pendants! grin

aldiwhore Fri 01-Feb-13 09:15:57

See? SEEE?!!!!! Whacks head on desk! I feel like crying.

chocoluvva Fri 01-Feb-13 09:28:35

octopi - seafood encased in pastry.

limitedperiodonly Fri 01-Feb-13 09:30:08

Didn't know the stanch/staunch one. I've mixed up alternately/alternatively and arrogantly 'corrected' remunerate to renumerate before being told off. I kept that quiet.

I was cured of my pendantry when a former boss pinned up some pompous bit of musing from me about slipping educational standards with all the mistakes highlighted in red pen. You could hardly see any white paper blush. It stayed there for nearly a year and I didn't dare take it down. He probably kept copies, anyway. Bastard.

Now I feel tempted to point out mistakes only when the poster has form for pontificating about her tip-top English skills. Does that really happen? wink

But I don't do anything but twitch any more because nobody loves a pendant sad

<Except for other pendants>

ImNotaPheasantPlucker Fri 01-Feb-13 09:33:15

You lot should try living in Somerset.

'Where's it to?' 'I was paid a remittance' 'I didn't not never...'
'You was'

And I'm broad Zummerzet, even drives me mad!

aldiwhore Fri 01-Feb-13 09:35:33

It happens up north too ImNotaPheasantPlucker

"Can you borrow me some money?"
"Renember when etc.," (Argh)


I'm from Somerset! It's weird actually, I would never have written down 'where's it to?' but when I left home I was totally perplexed to find that no-one understood me!

ImNotaPheasantPlucker Fri 01-Feb-13 12:43:53

I suppose it's better than 'Whasonmysonnerowbeyon!'


The Somerset word I think Standard English could really do with is 'backalong'. Saves all that nonsense of 'last month, or was it two weeks ago, actually it may have been any time in the last decade, anyway, the other day...' . I may start a campaign grin.

ImNotaPheasantPlucker Fri 01-Feb-13 19:34:46


YABU, it doesn't matter, I'm disinterested. wink

Peacocklady Fri 01-Feb-13 20:22:15

While we're at it I'd like to add that it's not childrens', but children's and not peoples' but people's. The plural has its own form.
Folk keep adding pointless apostrophes onto plurals after the s (e.g. My parents' looked after my dog) as well and it's annoying!!

apostropheuse Fri 01-Feb-13 21:26:34

Now if you were looking after your parents' dog that would of course be different peacocklady

limitedperiodonly I love the way you kept typing pendant. grin

Peacocklady Fri 01-Feb-13 21:31:33

Yes of course.

conantg Sat 02-Feb-13 07:59:08

Yesterday I was given a receipt in the Post Office which contained the word "seperate".

seeker Sat 02-Feb-13 08:04:44

And disinterested and uninterested are completely different words. Grrrrrrrrr!

seeker Sat 02-Feb-13 08:06:27

Ahhhhgggggggg- just noticed you, SauvignonBlanche- how very dare you!

conantg Sat 02-Feb-13 08:07:52

And you keep things in kitchen drawers. Not draws!!!

ahhhhhh <slips into pedantry heaven>

Lose/Loose next on my list too grin

Along with the sign for the lift to the Piccadilly line at Earls Court tube station

"The next lift shall be lift number 4" The nice lady recording says it too.

The person banging he head on the lift wall is probably me.

limitedperiodonly Sat 02-Feb-13 08:16:42

Why, thank you apostropheuse

People who mix up disingenuous with naive. Particularly because it's always used in an insult which just makes the insulter look silly.

BoringSchoolChoiceNickname Sat 02-Feb-13 08:19:53

Well done OP - that's at least 5 people on this thread converted to the cause of Rightness, not to mention all the lurkers. A good evening's work.

Do we think disinterested/uninterested needs its own thread? It's been done before but it's going to take years of dedicated work to make headway into the tide of Wrongness.

Has anyone mentioned the awful

"I'll be with you momentarily"?


"I feel nauseous"

I'm not one to talk though. I use irregardless and "I could care less" wantonly because they tickle me. It is even funnier when someone thinks I don't know any better and corrects me.

Oh and I live with a 12 year old grammar nazi who corrects informational signs that DH tapes helpfully around the house.

For example,

"To open door, roll back mat" (new rug was preventing cupboard door opening and trying to force it was not helping new rug stay new).

was changed to

"Before opening door, please roll back the mat" with copious use of red pencil.

DH was not amused at either grammar nazi or his mother who thought it was funny.

Perhaps he has a career as an editor ahead of him!

slouchingtowardsBethlehem Sat 02-Feb-13 08:41:21

ooo this is my chance to find out:



Do they mean the same thing? Can they be used interchangeably? (and that must be wrong too??? go on, enjoy yourselves and educate me)

I think timeously means "in a frightened way" but am ready to be corrected.

Thingymajigs Sat 02-Feb-13 09:58:13

Everyone on this thread would find themselves very busy over on Reddit. There is a growing number of American adults using "on accident" "should of" "I could care less" and "than" when they mean "then".

YellowAndGreenAndRedAndBlue Sat 02-Feb-13 10:09:36

You are not really being unreasonable, but <yawn>.

13Iggis Sat 02-Feb-13 10:16:24

Timeously just means timely or in good time I think? As opposed to timidly.
Not understanding yawn as they is very exciting stuff

13Iggis Sat 02-Feb-13 10:17:01

This! This! Not they.

WilsonFrickett Sat 02-Feb-13 10:22:05

Timely is at a favourable time - a timely warning - timeously is more to do with being in good time for something. Post this timeously to meet the deadline.

I am corrected. It seems timeous means "early enough", of which the adverb is "timeously", and timely is an adjective meaning "with fortunate timing".

So syntactically they are not interchangeable (one adjective, one adverb) and semantically there is a distinction too.

landrover Sat 02-Feb-13 10:34:25

Ladies i have an item that is free or for nothing, IT IS NOT FOR FREE!!! when did that phrase start? it is so wrong!

slouchingtowardsBethlehem Sat 02-Feb-13 21:47:18

thanks for enlightening me about timely/timeous - sorry my gratitude was not timeously expressed

Seeker, you fell for it! grin

Thumbwitch Tue 05-Feb-13 13:01:20

Horatia - you were getting mixed up with "timorously", I believe.

OP, YANBU. And I'm glad you mentioned it.

Thumbwitch - yes, that's the one!

I was thinking it was "wee timeous beastie" which is something quite different. grin blush

Thumbwitch Tue 05-Feb-13 13:15:58


Thumbwitch Tue 05-Feb-13 22:44:25

I want to add another one! Sooth is not the same as soothe! You soothE your baby, sooth is a noun that means truth (old fashioned) and can be mostly found at the beginning of the word soothsayer these days.

Thumbwitch yes! Breath/breathe on labour threads drives me loopy too.

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