defuse

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

Definition of defuse

transitive verb

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

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 Her father taught her how to defuse her power, but as Charlie turns 11, the fire becomes harder and harder to control. Travis Bean, Forbes, 14 May 2022 Members of his own party had wanted to defuse sleaze allegations before local elections on Thursday. Bradford Betz, Fox News, 1 May 2022 Neil Parish, a member of Parliament since 2010, announced his decision Saturday after pressure from members of his own party who sought to defuse sleaze allegations before Britain holds its local elections on May 5. Danica Kirka, USA TODAY, 1 May 2022 Neil Parish, a member of Parliament since 2010, announced his decision Saturday after pressure from members of his own party who sought to defuse sleaze allegations before Britain holds its local elections on May 5. Danica Kirka, ajc, 30 Apr. 2022 Its intent, however, was unmistakable: to defuse the drama around the FBI raid and provide voters with a sense of reassurance that there’s nothing to see here. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, 21 Apr. 2022 Metro Transit Police could intervene, but officers were given masks to carry to defuse tense situations. Washington Post, 19 Apr. 2022 Investors are also keenly watching for developments related to a potential delisting of Chinese companies at American exchanges as Beijing vowed to defuse risks with a radical proposal. Jeanny Yu, Bloomberg.com, 11 Apr. 2022 But there’s no guarantee that meeting those needs will defuse all opposition to the housing project. Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, 9 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'defuse.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of defuse

1943, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Learn More About defuse

Dictionary Entries Near defuse

defund

defuse

defusion

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for defuse

Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Defuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defuse. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on defuse

Nglish: Translation of defuse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of defuse for Arabic Speakers

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