Word of the Day

pulverize

Origin of the word

The word pulverize comes from the Latin word ‘pulvis’ meaning ‘dust’ or ‘powder’, and later from ‘pulverizare’, which means to ‘reduce to powder’. Pulverize first came into usage in English sometime in the early 15th century.

Examples

Pulverize is a verb that refers to the act of destroying something by crushing it into tiny pieces. In less formal terms, it can also be used to describe the total defeat of an opponent.



Each year, consumers throw away nearly 45 million tons of broken computers, mobile devices and other electronic waste. Much of this waste can be extremely toxic to the environment, and e-waste recycling programmes are often unable to keep up with demand. To combat this growing problem, scientists at Rice University in the United States recently teamed up with engineers from the Indian Institute of Science to test a new method that may help make e-waste recycling easier.

The Rice University researchers used a new processing method to pulverize e-waste into minuscule particles. First, they placed a number of old circuit boards into a steel box filled with argon gas. They then used liquid nitrogen to freeze the box and its contents to -118 degrees Celsius. Once the waste was frozen, researchers shook the box for several hours. The test revealed that freezing the contents of the box made it possible to pulverize the circuit boards into virtual dust, with parts so tiny they could only be measured in nanoscopic scale, thus making recycling significantly easier and more efficient.

In informal English, pulverize means to totally destroy an adversary, either literally or figuratively. It’s a strong word that usually implies the use of great force or intent: “The boxer pledged to pulverize his opponent”, or “The pre-dawn attack was an attempt to pulverize the enemy stronghold”. On a lighter note, a good example is this quote from American author and humourist Mark Twain, a famously unapologetic cigar smoker: “I have stopped smoking now and then, for a few months at a time, but it was not on principle, it was only to show off; it was to pulverize those critics who said I was a slave to my habits and couldn’t break my bonds”.

Definition

1. to crush something into very small pieces, or powder, or a nearly liquid substance
2. to defeat an opponent completely

View the full definition at the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary is an award-winning, one-stop reference for English learners and speakers around the world.

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