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 Japanese director Hiroshi Okuyama is only 28 years old, but his feature filmmaking to date has been suffused by the desire to reach back into the past at the elusive sensibilities of youth. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 May 2024 Janet Planet, Baker’s filmmaking debut, is also filled with still moments—but rather than playing to total quiet, its dialogue-free sequences are suffused with little buzzes, chirps, and other ambient noises. David Sims, The Atlantic, 19 June 2024 From the anti-Muslim screed that alarmed Google’s hate speech-seeking detectors to the kid curriculum approved for Florida students, PragerU videos are suffused with invitations to rage. Pat Beall, Orlando Sentinel, 16 June 2024 Indeed, the rhetoric of antiestablishment populism has so suffused Western political discourse in recent years that its most common expressions have become clichés. Yascha Mounk, Foreign Affairs, 18 Aug. 2014 See all Example Sentences for suffuse 

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 17 Jul. 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

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