Confused Words | Diffuse and Defuse

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The words diffuse and defuse may be confusing. They sound almost similarly, but their meaning is different. The verb diffuse means to spread or scatter. However, the verb defuse means to remove the fuse from (a bomb..) or to reduce the tension.

Diffuse or defuse?


The word diffuse is a verb and means to spread. It may also be used as an adjective to mean spread or scattered; not concentrated.

Synonyms of diffuse:

spread, disseminate, scatter, disperse, distribute, propagate, transmit, broadcast, promulgate...


  • Many dangerous ideas are diffused over the Internet by extremists.
  • They constitute a large diffuse community.


1. Literally the word defuse is a verb and it means to remove the fuse from (an explosive device). It is made up of the prefix de- and the word fuse.

  • de- means reversal or undoing of the effects of an action.
  • fuse refers to a mechanism used to detonate an explosive device.

2. The verb defuse also means to reduce the tension, danger, hostility...

Synonyms of diffuse:

deactivate, disarm, disable, make safe, ease, calm...


  • The agent tried to defuse the bomb.
  • The secretary general is trying to defuse the middle east crisis.

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