When Alfred Nobel registered the patent for dynamite in 1867, he originally called it dynamit and drew on the Ancient Greek word dynamis, which meant "power", for the coinage. Eventually, when the word was standardized and taken into English, the e at the end was added. Nobel's decision may have been influenced by the pre-existing word dynamic, but the Greek root was definitely the source, and it all comes from the same place, anyway- the verb dynasthai, which could mean "to be able" or "to wield power". That in turn has an unknown origin but could be from the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European term dewh, meaning "fit". Dynamite as a verb was first used in 1878 and the usage in literature over time is fascinating- it separately peaked twice during the world wars and is now declining in utilization.
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd