Which is the best antonym for defuse?

Ideally it would be fuse, but I don't think this is an option. Maybe activate?

  • 'Defuse' is usually used metaphorically nowadays. Which sense do you require an antonym for? Please add a linked and attributed dictionary definition for that sense. If the literal one, 'prime' comes close. If the metaphorical, probably a duplicate of Is there a stronger word than 'incite' Jun 18, 2020 at 13:37
  • @EdwinAshworth The sense of defusing a computer program, so it won't do anything, even if called.
    – Roland
    Jun 18, 2020 at 13:42
  • Is that new? Idiomatic? Please give a relevant dictionary definition, as requested, to show it's not just a niche usage. And an example sentence from a reasonable source. Jun 18, 2020 at 13:44
  • @Roland - I've never heard "defuse" used in that sense.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 18, 2020 at 13:53
  • Questions on choosing an ideal word or phrase must include information on how it will be used in order to be answered. For help writing a good word or phrase request, see: About single word requests
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 18, 2020 at 13:54

1 Answer 1


As concerns physical processes "activate" is not very specific; it means (SOED) "make active, cause to act". For instance, "to activate an alarm" does not mean necessarily "to provide a mechanism or enable a mechanism so that the alarm will work properly" but it means also "to set off the alarm".

For a physical process the term "enable" would be proper in certain cases at least and it would always be so for a strictly logical one, such as in computing machines; it is the antonym of "deactivate", "inhibit" and "defuse"; however, for an alarm, "deactivate" seems a more likely term to use than "defuse" (ngram), which does not seem to connote the process properly.

Relative to a general process, the following terms can be considered to be antonyms.

  • to start the process of

  • to trigger the process of

  • to initiate the process

  • to get the process started

  • to get things started

  • set the process in motion

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