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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from diffuse

Adjective

diffusely adverb
diffuseness noun

Verb

diffusible \ di-​ˈfyü-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce diffuse (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

Frequently Asked Questions About diffuse

What is the difference between diffuse and defuse?

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. Although these word sound quite similar, their meanings are rather distinct. Defuse means "to make less harmful, potent, or tense"; the word has another, helpfully literal, meaning, which is "to remove the fuse from." Diffuse means "not concentrated or localized"; it comes from the Latin word diffūsus ("spread over a wide area").

What is the difference between diffuse and infuse?

Diffuse is commonly found used as both adjective ("not concentrated or localized") and verb ("to pour out and permit or cause to spread freely," "to scatter"), while infuse is almost entirely restricted to use as a verb. While the meannings of diffuse are mainly concerned with outward movement, those of infuse are inward; the word has such meanings as "to steep in liquid (such as water) without boiling so as to extract the soluble constituents or principles," "to administer or inject by infusion," and "to cause to be permeated with something (such as a principle or quality) that alters usually for the better."

What does diffuse pain mean?

Diffuse pain is pain is pain that not concentrated or localized, being instead spread throughout a wider area of the body.

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In large part, that’s because the CO2 in power plant emissions is relatively diffuse. Tim Mcdonnell, Quartz, "The business model for carbon capture is broken," 13 Aug. 2020 Kraftwerk’s studio albums have been sampled liberally (by Jay-Z, Afrika Bambaataa, Coldplay), but its influence feels even more diffuse and profound. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "Florian Schneider-Esleben, of Kraftwerk, Took Music to Uncharted Territory," 6 May 2020 Like one of the smooth wood sculptures inside, its solid form twists and in some cases fractures, opening up large skylights that bring diffuse illumination into the galleries. Sam Lubell, Los Angeles Times, "11 buildings by Ma Yansong, the architect behind George Lucas’ L.A. museum," 2 Apr. 2020 In the United States, a younger and more diffuse population means the peak comes a bit later and doesn't rise as high per capita, but the larger population means that over 2 million people end up dead. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Inside the model that may be making US, UK rethink coronavirus control," 17 Mar. 2020 Artificial light includes both direct lighting, such as street lights and commercial signs, and skyglow, a more diffuse illumination that spreads beyond urban centers and can be brighter than a full moon. Katie Hunt, CNN, "Fireflies are facing extinction due to habitat loss, pesticides and artificial light," 3 Feb. 2020 The image captures a wide array of phenomena; some fall under the category of halos, while the more diffuse shadings closer to the moon are from a corona. Washington Post, "Incredible moon halos, corona shine over Manitoba, Canada," 11 Jan. 2020 Are Levi’s efforts too diffuse to add up to real impact? Heather Landy, Quartz at Work, "Who will replace Paul Polman as the face of sustainable capitalism?," 18 Dec. 2019 The first movement may have been somewhat diffuse but the payoff was a revelation of inner voices. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Cleveland Orchestra paints vibrant self-portrait through Bach, Brahms, and Ades," 14 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb All this detail threatens to diffuse his through-line, but his later retracing of Wagner's role in the rise of Nazism grounds his narrative, beaming a light into the dark hangover of High Modernism. Hamilton Cain Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Review: 'Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music,' by Alex Ross," 18 Dec. 2020 According to Mann, the presence of a large settlement at Tap O’ Noth supports the idea that the region’s formerly diffuse population reorganized into a handful of larger communities in response to the threat of invasion. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Ancient Hillfort May Be Largest Known Pictish Settlement in Scotland," 18 May 2020 Some people set up piles of homemade shields and traffic cones, the latter meant to diffuse smoke canisters launched by police. oregonlive, "Occupation outside North Portland home continues, despite mayor’s condemnation, warning," 9 Dec. 2020 In this scheme, activator molecules color a cell but also trigger the production of inhibitors, which diffuse faster than the activators and can shut off pigment production. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "How cats get their stripes," 2 Dec. 2020 But Parler’s design seems to diffuse and obfuscate these types of collective happenings. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Parler’s vibe is MAGA-red and unreal. Extremism by design?," 25 Nov. 2020 The most important changes in apartment buildings are likely to be the least appreciated: systems to sanitize surfaces, diffuse viruses and assuage resident fears. Stefanos Chen, New York Times, "Covid Pushes Real Estate Into the Future," 13 Nov. 2020 As with the chlorine gas emission, SRM plumes diffuse and eventually mix into the global atmosphere so that rocket alumina particles are found in random stratospheric air samples from equator to poles. Martin N. Ross, Scientific American, "An Underappreciated Danger of the New Space Age: Global Air Pollution," 6 Nov. 2020 These nuances also turned Abela on to the transformative power of makeup: how a wash of powder can diffuse the light or how a long-lasting liquid lipstick can translate over even the most pixelated of frames (and stay in place underneath a mask). Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "Meet Marisa Abela, the Breakout Star of the New HBO Series Industry," 2 Nov. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about diffuse

Time Traveler for diffuse

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for diffuse

Cite this Entry

“Diffuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diffuse. Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for diffuse

diffuse

adjective
How to pronounce diffuse (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of diffuse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

diffuse

verb
How to pronounce diffuse (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on diffuse

What made you want to look up diffuse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!