Defuse and Diffuse

The Quick Answer
What is the difference between defuse and diffuse?

To defuse means to remove the fuse.
Diffuse means spread out.

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.)

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose?
What are adjectives? What are verbs? List of easily confused words