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verb (used with object), at·om·ized, at·om·iz·ing.
  1. to reduce to atoms.
  2. to reduce to fine particles or spray.
  3. to destroy (a target) by bombing, especially with an atomic bomb.
verb (used without object), at·om·ized, at·om·iz·ing.
  1. to split into many sections, groups, factions, etc.; fragmentize: Critics say the group has atomized around several leaders.
Also especially British, at·om·ise.

Origin of atomize

First recorded in 1670–80; atom + -ize
Related formsat·om·i·za·tion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for atomization



  1. to separate or be separated into free atoms
  2. to reduce (a liquid or solid) to fine particles or spray or (of a liquid or solid) to be reduced in this way
  3. (tr) to destroy by weapons, esp nuclear weapons
Derived Formsatomization or atomisation, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for atomization


1866, noun of action from atomize.



"reduce to atoms," 1845; "reduce a liquid to a very fine mist," 1865, verb formed from atom + -ize. Related: Atomized; atomizing. Originally in reference to medical treatment for injured or diseased lungs; sense of "to destroy with atomic weapons" is from 1945.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper