suf·​fuse sə-ˈfyüz How to pronounce suffuse (audio)
suffused; suffusing

transitive verb

: to spread over or through in the manner of fluid or light : flush, fill
the northern horizon was suffused with a deep red glowP. M. Leschak
suffusion noun
suffusive adjective

Did you know?

The Latin word suffendere, ancestor to suffuse by way of Latin suffūsus, has various meanings that shed light on our modern word, among them "to pour on or in (as an addition)" and "to fill with a liquid, color, or light that wells up from below." It’s no surprise, then, that suffuse refers to the action of fluid or light spreading over or through something, as when light fills a dark room when you crack open a door. Suffundere is a blend of the prefix sub- ("under" or "beneath") and the verb fundere ("to pour" or "to send forth"). Other English verbs related to fundere continue the theme of pouring or spreading: diffuse ("to pour out and spread freely"), effuse ("to pour or flow out"), transfuse ("to cause to pass from one to another"), and the verb fuse itself when it's used to mean "to meld or join."

Choose the Right Synonym for suffuse

infuse, suffuse, imbue, ingrain, inoculate, leaven mean to introduce one thing into another so as to affect it throughout.

infuse implies a pouring in of something that gives new life or significance.

new members infused enthusiasm into the club

suffuse implies a spreading through of something that gives an unusual color or quality.

a room suffused with light

imbue implies the introduction of a quality that fills and permeates the whole being.

imbue students with intellectual curiosity

ingrain, used only in the passive or past participle, suggests the deep implanting of a quality or trait.

clung to ingrained habits

inoculate implies an imbuing or implanting with a germinal idea and often suggests stealth or subtlety.

an electorate inoculated with dangerous ideas

leaven implies introducing something that enlivens, tempers, or markedly alters the total quality.

a serious play leavened with comic moments

Examples of suffuse in a Sentence

Morning light suffused the room. she was suffused with an overwhelming feeling of liberation as her horse broke into a gallop
Recent Examples on the Web From medieval sailors buried beneath the cobblestone streets in Visby to the ruins of Norse shipyards where longboats were built 1,000 years ago, ancient maritime lore suffuses the island. Julia Zaltzman, Robb Report, 18 Feb. 2024 Sessa also has a winking quality, a mischievous glint in his eye that suffuses Angus with a natural humor. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 1 Sep. 2023 All matter was suffused by a single, infinite, and self-knowing motion. Merve Emre, The New Yorker, 29 Jan. 2024 For the five pregnant women interviewed by Washington Post reporters, fear that mother or baby might not survive suffused their waking thoughts — and made appearances in nightmares, too. Hajar Harb, Washington Post, 21 Jan. 2024 It’s suffused with much the same melancholic dread that colored that elegant 2008 vampire hit, but a much more elliptical approach to narrative. Guy Lodge, Variety, 20 Jan. 2024 Like all of Didion’s fiction, it is lit up with social details (the smell of Nivea lotion, the sight of a Nieman Marcus Christmas catalog) and suffused with a kind of hypermodern sardonic bemusement that never seems to lose its purchase on our present. Vogue, 30 Dec. 2023 Which was the feeling that suffused the room a few months ago in Roxbury, long a Black neighborhood that has, like so many enclaves in gentrifying cities, undergone changes in its class and ethnic makeup. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 10 Nov. 2023 So what’s an Eagles gig suffused with finality sound like? Mikael Wood, Los Angeles Times, 6 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'suffuse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Latin suffūsus, past participle of suffundere "to pour on or in (as an addition), cause (a liquid, color, light) to well up or rise to the surface, fill with a liquid, color or light that wells up from below," from suf-, assimilated form of sub- sub- + fundere "to pour, shed, cast, send forth, disperse" — more at found entry 5

First Known Use

1590, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of suffuse was in 1590


Dictionary Entries Near suffuse

Cite this Entry

“Suffuse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


suf·​fuse sə-ˈfyüz How to pronounce suffuse (audio)
suffused; suffusing
: to spread over or through in the manner of fluid or light
suffusion noun
suffusive adjective

Medical Definition


transitive verb
suf·​fuse sə-ˈfyüz How to pronounce suffuse (audio)
suffused; suffusing
: to flush or spread over or through in the manner of a fluid and especially blood

More from Merriam-Webster on suffuse

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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