early 15c., pulverisen, "reduce to powder or dust," from Late Latin pulverizare "reduce to powder or dust," from Latin pulvis (genitive pulveris) "dust, powder," which perhaps is related to Latin pollen "mill dust; fine flour" (and thus the other words under pollen), but de Vaan and others find that "the semantic connection of 'dust' with 'chaff' is uncompelling" because flour and chaff "are each other's opposite when processing grain. Of course, via a primary meaning 'to grind' or 'fine dust', they may be connected." Figurative sense of "break down, demolish" is by 1630s. Related: Pulverized; pulverizing; pulverizable.
updated on February 03, 2021