diffuse

adjective
dif·​fuse | \ di-ˈfyüs How to pronounce diffuse (audio) \

Definition of diffuse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : being at once verbose and ill-organized a diffuse report from the scene of the earthquake
2 : not concentrated or localized diffuse lighting diffuse sclerosis

diffuse

verb
dif·​fuse | \ di-ˈfyüz How to pronounce diffuse (audio) \
diffused; diffusing

Definition of diffuse (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to pour out and permit or cause to spread freely a drop of blue dye diffused in a glass of water
b : extend, scatter diffusing their ideas throughout the continent
c : to spread thinly or wastefully a government in which power is diffused
2 physics : to subject to diffusion (see diffusion sense 3) especially : to break up and distribute (incident light) by reflection put up a screen to diffuse the light

intransitive verb

1 : to spread out or become transmitted especially by contact The civilization diffused westward.
2 : to undergo diffusion heat from the radiator diffusing throughout the room

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Other Words from diffuse

Adjective

diffusely adverb
diffuseness noun

Verb

diffusible \ di-​ˈfyü-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce diffusible (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for diffuse

Adjective

wordy, verbose, prolix, diffuse mean using more words than necessary to express thought. wordy may also imply loquaciousness or garrulity. a wordy speech verbose suggests a resulting dullness, obscurity, or lack of incisiveness or precision. the verbose position papers prolix suggests unreasonable and tedious dwelling on details. habitually transformed brief anecdotes into prolix sagas diffuse stresses lack of compactness and pointedness of style. diffuse memoirs that are so many shaggy-dog stories

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 diffuse in a Sentence

Adjective

The forest was filled with a soft, diffuse light. a diffuse speech that took a great deal of time to make a very small point

Verb

The heat from the radiator diffuses throughout the room. The heat was diffused throughout the room. The photographer uses a screen to diffuse the light. an area of diffused light
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Nature has innate mystery; its smallest building blocks simply are fuzzy and diffuse objects. Sophia Chen, WIRED, "Physicists Hack the Uncertainty Principle to See an Ion Wiggle," 20 June 2019 While there is some evidence that states that allow parties greater control over financing elect more moderate politicians, others argue that the diffuse world of finance is simply an extension of party control. Didi Kuo, Vox, "Challenges to parties in the United States and beyond," 20 June 2019 Try to be the bigger person, but don’t let self-restraint get you down — diffuse frustrations through something like journaling, taking long walks, or cooking a meal. Randon Rosenbohm, Allure, "What June's Pisces Horoscope Predictions Mean for You," 29 May 2019 The rapid, diffuse arrival of electric scooters on sidewalks and street corners revealed the yawning gaps in urban transportation that cars, buses, trains, and bikes just can’t close. Umair Irfan, Vox, "The scooter stampede of 2018 is great news for urban transportation," 5 Dec. 2018 Photo: Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters A proliferation in mergers and a more global approach to banking has produced diffuse headquarters in that sector. Te-ping Chen, WSJ, "Lessons for Amazon in Running Multiple Headquarters," 5 Nov. 2018 Runner’s knee can feel like a dull, diffuse ache in and around the kneecap. SELF, "How to Know When It’s Safe to Run Through Knee Pain and When You Need to Stop," 7 Dec. 2018 Clint Watts, a senior fellow with the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said the diffuse nature of congressional and state races makes them a harder target than a single presidential election. Robert Mcmillan, WSJ, "Russian Hackers Largely Skipped the Midterms, and No One Really Knows Why," 12 Nov. 2018 The earlier data, from day 75, showed radio emissions that were relatively diffuse. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Neutron-star merger blasted a jet of material through the debris," 5 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Ballistic helmets and gloves can diffuse away some of a soldier’s heat signature, but completely hiding a soldier would be a difficult--and expensive--task. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Army Wants to Block Heat Signatures of Soldiers and Tanks," 11 Apr. 2019 Signaling molecules called morphogens then diffuse through the embryonic tissues, eventually defining the formation of body parts. Quanta Magazine, "The Math That Tells Cells What They Are," 13 Mar. 2019 Once again, the woman’s story is consumed and abstracted and diffused into the acrid air. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "The Cruel Paradox at the Heart of E. Jean Carroll’s Allegation Against Trump," 24 June 2019 Responders will help diffuse conflicts and prevent retaliation. Juliana Kim, baltimoresun.com, "MedStar Harbor Hospital joins Baltimore's Safe Streets anti-violence initiative," 11 June 2019 In the wake of Booker's death, diffuse strands of Dallas are coming together to seek ways to protect the black transgender community, one that's especially vulnerable to violence. Emanuella Grinberg, CNN, "Texas had another chance this year to protect transgender people and again chose not to," 6 June 2019 The technology leverages a network of potentially thousands of independent computers with their own security systems, aiming to diffuse risk. Evan Halper, courant.com, "Vote-by-phone tech trend alarms security experts," 5 June 2019 Many examples of such images are circulating in Germany, diffused by neo-Nazis and by members of the anti-immigration movement Pegida. Marc-olivier Bherer, Harper's magazine, "No Reservations," 10 May 2019 Oxygen simply diffuses into their circulating blood plasma from the frigid seawater by way of the fish’s enlarged gills and smooth skin. Quanta Magazine, "Icefish Study Adds Another Color to the Story of Blood," 22 Apr. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'diffuse.' 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 diffuse

Adjective

1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for diffuse

Adjective

Middle English, "dispersed, verbose (of speech or writing)," borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French diffus, borrowed from Latin diffūsus "spread over a wide area, (of writing) extensive, verbose," from past participle of diffundere "to pour out over a wide surface, spread, extend, squander" — more at diffuse entry 2

Verb

Middle English, in past participle diffusid, borrowed from Latin diffūsus, past participle of diffundere "to pour out over a wide surface, spread out, extend, squander," from dif-, assimilated form of dis- dis- + fundere "to pour, shed" — more at found entry 5

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Learn More about diffuse

Statistics for diffuse

Last Updated

16 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for diffuse

The first known use of diffuse was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for diffuse

diffuse

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of diffuse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: spread out over a large space : not concentrated in one area

diffuse

verb

English Language Learners Definition of diffuse (Entry 2 of 2)

: to spread out : to move freely throughout a large area
: to exist or be known throughout an area
: to cause (light) to be soft and spread out

diffuse

verb
dif·​fuse | \ di-ˈfyüz How to pronounce diffuse (audio) \
diffused; diffusing

Kids Definition of diffuse

: to spread or allow to spread freely The frosted window diffused the sunlight.

diffuse

adjective
dif·​fuse | \ dif-ˈyüs How to pronounce diffuse (audio) \

Medical Definition of diffuse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: not concentrated or localized diffuse sclerosis

diffuse

verb
dif·​fuse | \ dif-ˈyüz How to pronounce diffuse (audio) \
diffused; diffusing

Medical Definition of diffuse (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to subject (as a light beam) to diffusion
2 : to break up and distribute (incident light) by reflection (as from a rough surface)

intransitive verb

: to undergo diffusion

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More from Merriam-Webster on diffuse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with diffuse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for diffuse

Spanish Central: Translation of diffuse

Nglish: Translation of diffuse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of diffuse for Arabic Speakers

Comments on diffuse

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