Word Choice: Defuse vs. Diffuse

Defuse vs Diffuse

Mistakes regarding word choice are common, especially when writing an essay, which often requires using unusual words. For example, most of us do not use the word ‘diffuse’ on an everyday basis. As such, we may confuse it for ‘defuse’ in our written work, a visually similar but distinct word.

Defuse (Remove a Fuse or Reduce Danger)

Defuse means ‘remove a fuse or make a situation less tense or dangerous’.

For example, a police bomb squad would ‘defuse’ a bomb. But sometimes we also use ‘defuse’ figuratively. For example, we talk about ‘defusing’ a tense situation by calming someone down.

Diffuse (Spread or Scatter)

‘Diffuse’ means ‘spread’ or ‘scatter’. This often applies to the spread of ideas or technology:

Smartphone technology has diffused rapidly across Africa.

But it can also apply to chemicals or other substances (e.g. the process of a substance spreading through a container is known as ‘diffusion’).

In addition, it can be used as an adjective meaning ‘wordy’, as in:

The Prime Minister’s address was substantive but diffuse.

This usage is fairly rare, though.

It is important to choose appropriate words in your writing. But even if you understand the words you are using, it can still be easy to mix up words by accident (like with ‘diffuse’ and ‘defuse’).

Because it is easy to make mistakes, and because it can be even easier to miss them, it is a good idea to submit your work to a proofreading service.

The proofreaders at Proofread My Essay have excellent attention to detail and offer help with word choice, spelling, grammar, punctuation, referencing, and formatting. So, if you want to make sure that your writing is as good as it can be, submit a 500-word sample to Proofread My Essay for free today.

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