Is "defusal" a legitimate verbal noun form of the verb "to defuse". Is it grammatically correct to describe a guide on how to defuse bombs as a "bomb defusal manual"?

  • 2
    I have seen this called bomb defusing or explosive ordinance disposal, but never bomb defusal. – Davo Aug 21 '17 at 17:39
  • Indeed. This is from an argument between native speakers, so we need a source or a prior usage. I think it's been coined by the makers of "keep talking and nobody explodes", and I parsed it as a word until somone pointed it out to me. We're not looking for how to say this, but just to settle whether it's actually a word. The gerund form is clunky, in my eyes - if someone talked about calling out the "bomb defusing squad", it would sound like a child or non-native speaker. – Olly Aug 21 '17 at 18:04
  • "Dispose" is a good etymological parallel to "defuse", with disposal being a legitimate noun form of the former. However ,the ~pose comes from a latin verb (ponere), while the ~fuse comes from a latin noun (fusus). I don't know latin, so I don't know if it's right for it to adopt an ~al ending like that. Hoping someone might know... – Olly Aug 21 '17 at 18:15
  • Wordness comes under semantics, not grammar. Hopefully, someone will tell us whether 'defusal' appears in OED. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 21 '17 at 20:34
  • "Bomb defusal manual". No, they are called "render safe procedures". – Phil Sweet Aug 21 '17 at 20:36

There's no such word in the regular dictionaries (Oxford for example), and bomb disposal is the usual phrase in common usage. Defusal is probably military jargon formed by similarity to refuse/refusal, or from the -al added in 'disposal'.

  • It's not in the online Oxford English Dictionary, either, even in a quotation. – 1006a Aug 21 '17 at 20:37
  • Indeed, it seems to be a complete neologism from popular culture. As others above have said, the military don't even seem to use the verb "defuse" when talking about how to prevent detonation of an explosive device. I think the makers of "Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes" created the word because there is no existing noun form of "defuse". Ah well, thanks for your insights, everyone :) – Olly Aug 22 '17 at 8:24

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