Viewer discretion is advised.

I've stumbled upon this phrase a few times (mainly at the beginning of video clips or movie trailers), but I'm still not quite sure what it really expresses. What is actually advised here? Oxford dictionary suggests that discretion is either "freedom to decide what should be done" or "the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offence or revealing confidential information".

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    Discretion can also refer to the capacity to discriminate / decide. Thus, "Viewer discretion is advised" would mean "We advice that the viewer has discretion", and then "We advice that the viewer has the capacity to decide (to view this content or not)", and finally "capacity to decide" equates to information about the content and maturity enough to make a good personal decision with it. Oct 17, 2017 at 0:07

3 Answers 3


It's a warning, letting the viewer know they may not want to watch the program; it may contain something they don't want to watch, such as violence or sexual content. "Discretion" is simply choosing not to watch.

Taking it one step further, "discretion" may also refer to choosing what to allow someone else (such as your children) to watch.

  • Could it also warn viewers that a video contains spoilers ? (because I have seen some videos that doesn't contain any explicit content but where there was this message) Jun 24, 2014 at 18:50
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    @TrevörAnneDenise Not likely.
    – user230
    Jun 25, 2014 at 1:57
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    Interesting. It seems to be randomly applied to certain types of content, for example I've rarely seen it used for news footage or violent shows but almost always for shows with sex or nudity. It's a very US notion, I think, that has to do with the history of puritanism in the USA. Oct 21, 2020 at 20:06

"Viewer discretion advised" refers to "adult" content that is unsuitable for children, and for some adults as well. It means that adults should make a conscious decision whether or not to watch it, and be VERY careful about lettng children see it.


The program contains something that may offend someone (coarse language or humor, violence, sex, nudity, drug use or references, liberal ideas,...) so don't say you weren't warned.

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