defuse » diffuse
Spotted in the wild:
- With the possibility of trouble starting up again, I felt that this was a good way to help diffuse any complications similar to the last time. (in a fan fiction)
- It’s 2004 and India and Pakistan are at war, both with missiles ready and aimed. The American president and his top advisors must diffuse the situation. (BBC Four)
Analyzed or reported by:
- Arnold Zwicky at Language Log (The Fall Eggcorn Crop)
This eggcorn involves a metaphor shift: the problem or situation at hand likened a noxious substance that can be rendered harmless by scattering it about and thereby diluting it, instead of to a bomb that must be defused.
As of 2004/12/23, Google finds 18,400 hits for [_”diffuse the situation”_](www.google.com/search?hl=…) vs 33,200 for [_”defuse the situation”_](www.google.com/search?num…). This shows that the eggcorn is entering the mainstream, probably because the underlying analogy appears compelling to many.