Wrong Word Wednesday #54

Every week I demonstrate an example of poor English where a different word is used from the actual meaning. Usually this creates a grammatically incorrect sentence, sometimes it sounds amusing. Unfortunately, the mistake is so pervasive that we all do it and such errors are usually made by those who should know better – journalists working for national or global media outlets such as newspapers and television.

Defuse / Diffuse

I came across this in a mindfulness course I did recently and had to stop and ask myself which one was correct. As it is not something you will write every day. the problem is in pronunciation; people do not know which one to use.  One of these precedes “…the situation” but which one? Whenever I hear somebody saying it, they pronounce it like the second word but it is actually the first you need.

Defuse – To remove the tension, return something to a calm state. This works well as an analogy for preventing an argument or a fight

Diffuse – This means to spread something, or to dilute it.

It is easy to remember if you think of a bomb. A bomb has a fuse, the de- prefix means to remove something; so when you stop an argument from happening, you are de-fusing it.


4 thoughts on “Wrong Word Wednesday #54

  1. I didn’t even know the meaning of the word Diffuse until I read this post. Thanks, I learned something new.

  2. I didn’t know the word “defuse” existed! Thanks again WWW.

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