小词详解 | discreet

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小词详解 | discreet
discreet 英 [dɪˈskriːt] 美 [dɪˈskriːt]

考研 TOEFL TEM8 GRE

外刊例句

  • But it is the sort of event that could lead incumbents to self-isolate—accelerating the discreet spread of Chinese banks in emerging markets.
    但这类事件可能会导致传统银行自我隔离,从而加速中资银行在新兴市场中的谨慎扩张。
    ——《经济学人》
  • Illumination, as in a medieval manuscript, seemed to be behind discreet, long-sleeved dresses in gray wool or plaid, lighted down the front with gilded embroidery.
    就像中世纪的手稿中说的那样,光明似乎隐藏在那些朴素的长袖连衣裙背后,这些连衣裙是用灰色羊毛或格子花呢做成的,正面用镀金的刺绣提亮。
    ——《纽约时报》

基本释义

[adjective] careful and prudent in one's speech or actions, especially in order to keep something confidential or to avoid embarrassment
[形容词] (尤指为了保密或避免尴尬而)言行小心谨慎的

深入解读

看到 discreet 一词,老铁们不难想起小站(微信公众号:田间小站)早在 好书推荐 | 一本“补短板”和“强弱项”的单词书 中就提到过 discreet 与 discrete 是一组容易混淆的单词,要注意区别。

从词源上看, discreet 同 discrete 一样,都是源自拉丁语 discretus (分离的),只是前者14世纪末经古法语 discret (谨慎的、明智的、聪明的)进入英语,主要指言行“谨慎的、慎重的、考虑周到的”,尤指为了避免泄密、尴尬、冒犯他人或者引起过多注意,比如:

  • 他对两性关系一贯谨小慎微。他的私生活没有爆出过一丁点儿的丑闻。
    He was always very discreet about his love affairs. Not a whiff of scandal had ever tainted his private life.
  • 问题的关键在于你应该审慎地询问清楚再签字。
    The crux of the matter is that you ought to make a few discreet enquiries before you sign anything.

从谨慎小心不希望引起过多注意这个概念出发,还可以进一步用 discreet 称赞某个事物“朴素的、不显眼的”以及“少的、小的”,比如:

  • 那位戴着素净首饰的女士靠着船上的护栏,凝望大海。
    The lady who wore discreet jewellery leaned on the ship's rail and gazed out to sea.

名著用例

It was a matter upon which he was reticent, and with persons of his kind a direct question is never very discreet.
这是一个他讳莫如深的话题;对于像他这样的人直接问这类事也是很不谨慎的。

出自威廉·萨默塞特·毛姆(William Somerset Maugham)的长篇小说《月亮和六便士》(The Moon and Sixpence)。

同近义词

  • cautious: (of a person) careful to avoid potential problems or dangers
  • circumspect: wary and unwilling to take risks
  • wary: feeling or showing caution about possible dangers or problems