Is there a word or term for deconstructing something so much that it becomes unrecognizable? or breaking something down so far that it cannot be built back up again?

To give an example, I sometimes think of the atom, which is "the smallest constituent unit of matter".

If you break something down past the atomic level, it becomes ___.

The context I would use this term would be more figurative or linguistic than scientific.

EDIT: I think by giving the scientific example above, I'm giving people the wrong impression.

To give another example:

if you take a house made of lego blocks and decontruct it down to each individual lego block, you can still sort of "see" the house, and it is still able to be rebuilt. But if you then start cutting up or melting down the lego blocks then the essence of the house is lost and you can no longer rebuilt it again.

I'm looking for a term that describes this process.

I believe I've heard a term for this before, though I may be mistaken. I may just need to settle for one of the answers already given (dissolves seems to be closest to the idea I'm trying to describe).

  • FUBAR?
    – NVZ
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 7:35
  • If you break something down past the atomic level, it becomes subatomic. Right?
    – NVZ
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 17:16
  • I would say "atomized", unless you want something strictly accurate from a physics standpoint.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 18:02
  • If you'll accept a neologism, I'll submit "hyperatomized."
    – quelcjlx
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 13:26

6 Answers 6



transitive verb
1. to break or decompose into constituent elements, parts, or small particles
2. to destroy the unity or integrity of
intransitive verb
1. to break or separate into constituent elements or parts
2. to lose unity or integrity by or as if by breaking into parts
3. to undergo a change in composition

"an atomic nucleus that disintegrates because of radioactivity"



verb (used with object), obliterated, obliterating.

  1. to remove or destroy all traces of; do away with; destroy completely.
  2. to blot out or render undecipherable (writing, marks, etc.); efface.

Dissolves maybe.

If you break something down past the atomic level, it dissolves into information.

If you look at a painting up close, it dissolves into splotches.


Perhaps Indistinguishable (M-W)

a : indeterminate in shape or structure

b : not clearly recognizable or understandable

c : lacking identifying or individualizing qualities


Without getting scientific, pulverize——reducing something to dust——makes reassembly difficult.

I offer "pulverize."



not able to be repaired or corrected
not remediable
"an irremediable error"

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