decimation, n.decimator, n.
/des"euh mayt'/, v.t., decimated, decimating.
1. to destroy a great number or proportion of: The population was decimated by a plague.
2. to select by lot and kill every tenth person of.
3. Obs. to take a tenth of or from.
[1590-1600; < L decimatus, ptp. of decimare to punish every tenth man chosen by lot, v. deriv. of decimus tenth, deriv. of decem TEN; see ATE1]
Usage. The earliest English sense of DECIMATE is "to select by lot and execute every tenth soldier of (a unit)." The extended sense "destroy a great number or proportion of" developed in the 19th century: Cholera decimated the urban population. Because the etymological sense of one-tenth remains to some extent, DECIMATE is not ordinarily used with exact fractions or percentages: Drought has destroyed (not decimated) nearly 80 percent of the cattle.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Decimate — Dec i*mate, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Decimated}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Decimating}.] [L. decimatus, p. p. of decimare to decimate (in senses 1 & 2), fr. decimus tenth. See {Decimal}.] 1. To take the tenth part of; to tithe. Johnson. [1913 Webster] 2. To… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • decimate — has changed its meaning because the old one is no longer needed. Historically, decimate means ‘to kill one person in ten’, and had its origin in military punishments. As the need for this meaning diminished, a new one emerged, the now familiar… …   Modern English usage

  • decimate — ► VERB 1) kill or destroy a large proportion of. 2) drastically reduce the strength of. DERIVATIVES decimation noun. USAGE The earliest sense of decimate was ‘kill one in every ten of’, a reference to the ancient Roman practice of killing one in… …   English terms dictionary

  • decimate — index destroy (efface), diminish, disarm (divest of arms), eliminate (eradicate), lessen, minimize …   Law dictionary

  • decimate — c.1600, in reference to the practice of punishing mutinous military units by capital execution of one in every 10, by lot; from L. decimatus, pp. of decimare (see DECIMATION (Cf. decimation)). Killing one in ten, chosen by lots, from a rebellious …   Etymology dictionary

  • decimate — [v] destroy annihilate, butcher*, commit genocide, execute, exterminate, kill off, massacre, obliterate, slaughter, stamp out, wipe out; concept 252 …   New thesaurus

  • decimate — [des′ə māt΄] vt. decimated, decimating [< L decimatus, pp. of decimare < decem, TEN] 1. Obs. to select by lot and kill every tenth one of 2. to destroy or kill a large part of [famine decimated the population] 3. Obs. to take a tenth part… …   English World dictionary

  • decimate — [[t]de̱sɪmeɪt[/t]] decimates, decimating, decimated 1) VERB To decimate something such as a group of people or animals means to destroy a very large number of them. [V n] The pollution could decimate the river s thriving population of kingfishers …   English dictionary

  • decimate — verb Decimate is used with these nouns as the subject: ↑injury Decimate is used with these nouns as the object: ↑army …   Collocations dictionary

  • decimate — UK [ˈdesɪmeɪt] / US [ˈdesɪˌmeɪt] verb [transitive] Word forms decimate : present tense I/you/we/they decimate he/she/it decimates present participle decimating past tense decimated past participle decimated to spoil or destroy something, for… …   English dictionary

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