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 plot of Fuze revolves around the discovery of an unexploded World War II bomb at a London construction site, which sparks a mass evacuation as bomb disposal experts descend to defuse it. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Feb. 2024 The interventions of prominent world leaders, including the U.N. secretary general and Brazilian president, paved the way for talks between Maduro and Guyanese President Irfaan Ali slated for this Thursday to defuse the crisis. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 11 Dec. 2023 Chalamet himself had already defused that rumor in a run-in with TMZ cameras on Monday night. Katie Atkinson, Billboard, 9 Jan. 2024 Militants in Lebanon launched about 40 rockets into Israel on Saturday—one of the largest such barrages in recent months—as the Biden administration’s top diplomat arrived in the region to defuse an escalating Middle East crisis resulting from the war in Gaza. Jared Malsin and William Mauldin, WSJ, 6 Jan. 2024 Beijing has been tightening curbs on debt in recent months to defuse risks to the world’s second-largest economy and its financial stability, while also trying to stimulate growth that has long relied on infrastructure investments by local governments. Reuters Staff, The Christian Science Monitor, 19 Jan. 2024 His efforts to defuse the liability represented by Covid vary, but Trump’s insecurity with the subject matter is constant. Noah Rothman, National Review, 11 Jan. 2024 Israel-Gaza war Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with Israeli leaders Tuesday as part of a tour of the Middle East aimed at defusing regional tensions and preventing the conflict in Gaza from spreading. John Hudson, Washington Post, 9 Jan. 2024 The Secretary says his meetings are aimed at defusing regional tensions. Chris Boccia, ABC News, 7 Jan. 2024 See More

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 26 Feb. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on defuse

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