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

There are two near-term tests of whether the Buenos Aires agreement will defuse trade tensions. Bob Davis, WSJ, "U.S. Maintains Hard Line as Details Emerge in Trade Truce With China," 9 Dec. 2018 Each asymmetric, first-person shootout pits five cops against five terrorists, and the former must storm a locked-down building and either kill all the terrorists or defuse a bomb within a time limit. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "The 16 surprising new games that made PAX West an absolute blast," 9 Sep. 2018 The compromise bill came together as House Republican leaders tried to defuse a rebellion from moderates seeking action to protect the Dreamers. Thomas Kaplan, New York Times, "House Rejects Hard-Line Immigration Bill and Delays Vote on Compromise," 21 June 2018 Instead, Craig-Arriba and Powe returned, looking to defuse the situation. Anita Chabria, sacbee, "Police were called to handle an escalating mental-health crisis. This is why they backed off | The Sacramento Bee," 20 May 2018 In a brief phone call with the president that Read sought on Tuesday night to defuse the uproar, the CEO backed down and deferred the hikes. Kate Sheridan, STAT, "How Pfizer’s CEO flew under the political radar with price hikes — until he tangled with Trump," 13 July 2018 Privacy - Terms An altercation between the mother, daughter and Moore erupted in the apartment, and Mojica tried to defuse the situation, according to the release. Lavendrick Smith, charlotteobserver, "He tried to calm a family feud and was gunned down. Here's what happened to his killer.," 13 June 2018 In the seventh minute, the Venezuelan sought to defuse New York City FC's attack, knocking a header away from the goal before NYC FC striker David Villa intercepted the would-be clearance. Glynn A. Hill, Houston Chronicle, "Dynamo earn first win over New York City FC," 26 May 2018 Trump has forged a close relationship with Saudi Arabia, and that country is aiming to defuse any political tensions caused by high crude and gasoline prices, says Tom Kloza, global energy analyst for the Oil Price Information Service. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Oil prices fall on talk of hike in production, raising hope for dip in gasoline prices," 25 May 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

15 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for defuse

The first known use of defuse was in 1943

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on defuse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with defuse

Spanish Central: Translation of defuse

Nglish: Translation of defuse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of defuse for Arabic Speakers

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