de·fuse | \(ˌ)dē-ˈfyüz \

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

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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

Spurred by the civilian Police Commission, which oversees the LAPD, Beck equipped his 10,000 officers with body cameras and instituted training focused on defusing volatile encounters. Cindy Chang,, "Chief Charlie Beck says goodbye to the LAPD," 28 June 2018 President Moon Jae-in of South Korea has urged both the United States and North Korea to soften their stances so talks could begin on defusing the crisis, which appeared to push the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war in the past year. Choe Sang-hun, New York Times, "North Korea, Seeking ‘Equal Footing,’ Rejects Preconditions for U.S. Talks," 3 Mar. 2018 The attack that stuck came in the 33rd minute, when Mexico defused a German attack and caught the champions on the break. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "Mexico Stuns Germany in World Cup Opener," 17 June 2018 The app gently guides users in learning to relax their muscles and mind, and how to defuse anger. Gary Robbins,, "5 apps that caregivers need to know about," 24 Apr. 2018 One aim is to foster a level of comfort so youth will talk with adults, whether a counselor or a member of the Peacekeepers Alliance, a group that tries to defuse tension in neighborhoods and prevent violence. Robert Higgs,, "Mayor Frank Jackson wants counselors in rec centers, training for city workers to address causes of violence, crime," 23 Apr. 2018 Step by step, Bogdanski taught a defensive approach to aggression, with an eye to defusing the situation. Janice Steinhagen,, "Special Needs Kids Sample Sports Options At Resource Fair," 19 Apr. 2018 Immigrants’ advocates fear that his move could defuse the public pressure as family separations give way to family internment camps. Molly Ball, Time, "Trump Backed Down, But the Crisis at the Border Is Far From Over," 21 June 2018 Taking ownership and apologizing defuses the situation and helps us retain something priceless: our reputation and credibility. James S. Cassel, miamiherald, "Is the decline in truth, accountability in Washington lowering standards for ethics in middle-market businesses?," 18 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of defuse

1943, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for defuse

Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for defuse

The first known use of defuse was in 1943

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More Definitions for defuse



English Language Learners Definition of defuse

: to make (something) less serious, difficult, or tense

: to remove the part of (an explosive) that makes it explode : to remove the fuse from (an explosive)

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Comments on defuse

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