de·​fuse (ˌ)dē-ˈfyüz How to pronounce defuse (audio)
defused; defusing; defuses

transitive verb

: to remove the fuse from (a mine, a bomb. etc.)
: to make less harmful, potent, or tense
defuse a crisis

Did you know?

defuse or diffuse?

Many people find it difficult to remember the difference between defuse and diffuse, and when faced with the need for one of these words simply grab whichever one first comes to mind. But it needn’t be this way: the meanings of these two are quite a bit different, and there is a simple way to differentiate between them. Defuse is formed by adding the prefix de- to the word fuse; you are removing the fuse (either literally or figuratively) when you defuse a situation, much as defanging something entails removing the fangs. Diffuse, when used as a verb, tends to carry meanings such as “spread” or “scatter.” Additionally, diffuse is the only one which may be found used as an adjective.

Examples of defuse in a Sentence

Skilled negotiators helped defuse the crisis.
Recent Examples on the Web The group noted that Dukes had been a civil engineer who had worked in Iraq with a defense contractor, defusing bombs then later as a radiological emergency response team leader. Gavin Off, Charlotte Observer, 30 Mar. 2024 Police later confirmed on X that the grenade was safely defused. Sophie Tanno, CNN, 17 Mar. 2024 Security has become a catchall term for the Chinese leadership’s obsession with defusing threats to China’s rise — especially from the United States. Christian Shepherd, Washington Post, 5 Mar. 2024 Jones has since backtracked in an effort to defuse speculation or provide clarity. USA TODAY, 13 Jan. 2024 On Tuesday, Kevin Pietersen shared a strong message on X to defuse rumors about the Princess of Wales, 42, who was seen on video for the first time since her surgery in footage published by TMZ on Monday. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 19 Mar. 2024 Scholars in China and abroad who hope the country might take a more liberal path sometimes look to history for examples of when party leaders made bold changes to defuse domestic and international tensions. Chris Buckley, New York Times, 10 Mar. 2024 Being reactionary will defuse others from getting in your way. Eugenia Last, The Mercury News, 24 Feb. 2024 The same with Team Xi defusing a ticking $9 trillion time bomb involving local government financing vehicles by then. William Pesek, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'defuse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1943, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of defuse was in 1943

Dictionary Entries Near defuse

Cite this Entry

“Defuse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on defuse

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