Defuse and Diffuse

The words defuse and diffuse sound similar, but their meanings are very different.

Defuse

The verb to defuse refers to the act of deactivating a bomb. (Defuse literally means to remove the fuse.) It is often used figuratively to mean to disarm or to pacify.

Examples:
  • How long did it take you to defuse the bomb?
  • (Here, defuse is being used literally.)
  • Paul, go back in the meeting and defuse all the arguing.
  • (Here, defuse is being used figuratively.)

Diffuse

The adjective diffuse means spread out or not concentrated in one place. Diffuse can also be a verb meaning to circulate or to spread.

Examples:
  • She is the CEO of a large diffuse company.
  • (Here, diffuse is an adjective meaning spread out.)
  • I need speakers that will diffuse my music around the whole arena.
  • (Here, diffuse is a verb meaning to spread.)

A Quick Test