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." 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 Post-Maidan Ukraine was suffused with civic spirit. Michael Kimmage, Foreign Affairs, 22 Aug. 2023 Rather, the story is suffused with an uncommon blend of radiance and resignation, nowhere more rapturously than in the final shot. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 18 Aug. 2023 Ballads of death and self-destruction suffused with strength and determination. Jeff Weiss, Spin, 21 Aug. 2023 Now, your colleague is probably a Christian and is either suffused with the spirit at all times or trying to spread the good word (according to his beliefs). Roxane Gay, New York Times, 30 Apr. 2023 In large part, that was thanks to the work of commercial illustrator J.C. Leyendecker, whose ads were suffused with homoeroticism. Dan Avery, NBC News, 7 June 2023 The film as a whole is suffused with a believable world-weariness, carried by people who have endured years of violence and brutality and who no longer have any compunction about ditching morality for the sake of survival. Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times, 30 May 2023 Politeness suffused the car, the family, maybe the era, and nobody remarked on what was happening, even when another car appeared in the distance, speeding toward them. Chris Colin, New York Times, 25 May 2023 There’s no common thread of history or medium to be found, but an undercurrent of radical discontent suffuses this academically minded show. Kriston Capps, Washington Post, 1 Aug. 2023 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 1 Oct. 2023.

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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