137

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Laura: We shouldn’t leave Stephanie at the circulation desk alone.
Jody: That’s what she wants you to think.

Laura: What if there’s a crisis?
Jody: She won’t even notice.

Laura: That’s a problem.
Jody: No, it’s not. Her preternatural calm diffuses lots of difficult situations.

Patron: I said I’m in a hurry!
Stephanie: I really like your hoodie.


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6 thoughts on “137”

  1. Leo Orionis says:

    You mean “defuses”, as in removes the fuse from a bomb. “Diffuse” is an adjective: attenuated, spread thin. Don’t know why this error has become so common in the last few years.

    1. Stephen says:

      A good reference librarian might point out that dictionaries are descriptive and not prescriptive, just prior to pointing out that the first sense listed under diffuse in said dictionary is the verb form. If you pressed your point, they might show you that the etymology for the adjective describes it as descending from the verb.

      1. katy says:

        But the verb form of diffuse is slightly different, still meaning to spread between people. If you said her calm diffuses amongst patrons, that’d sound correct. The point they made still stands that diffuse means spread and defuse means to keep from exploding.

        1. Chris says:

          “However, diffuse is also widely used, and can make sense when used to describe the lessening of danger (much in the same way defuse is used in this sense), for example:

          Only peaceful dialogue between the two countries could diffuse tension.”

          https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/usage/diffuse-or-defuse

        2. Dandi_Andi says:

          It is also used to describe reducing intensity by breaking up by deflection. Given the following panel in which she deflects the patron’s anger, diffuse still seems acceptable.

  2. Leo Orionis says:

    “Diffuse” is a Latin word:
    Online Etymological Dictionary:
    diffuse (adj.) early 15c., from Latin diffusus.
    diffuse (v.) 1520s (transitive), 1650s (intransitive), from Latin diffusus, past participle of diffundere “to pour out or away” (see diffusion). Related: Diffused; diffusing.

    “Defuse” is a modern English word:
    (Same source)
    1943, from de- + fuse. Related: Defused; defusing.

    Whatever excuses one chooses to make, they’re two different words, with different meanings. Diffuse is a Latin past participle borrowed by English, and its primary meaning is adjectival (It’s a PARTICIPLE!). Defuse is a made-up English word from the 20th century (“Captain, we found a bomb!” “Well, defuse it quick, before we all get blown up!”).

    I didn’t mean to start any fights, or to chastise the author. I’m just surprised that the mistake was made. I expected he’d simply go back and fix it. I certainly didn’t expect any rationalization, or historical (etymological) revision.

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