- to destroy a great number or proportion of: The population was decimated by a plague.
- to select by lot and kill every tenth person of.
- Obsolete. to take a tenth of or from.
Origin of decimate
Examples from the Web for decimated
Bentivolio noted that “at the end, [the British] did make it but they were decimated.”Tea Party Reindeer Farmer Faces Extinction
July 30, 2014
Hell, it worked for Tokyo in the 20th—after that city was decimated by Allied bombers, it was basically one big slum.Great Cities are Born Filthy
July 13, 2014
The earth has been decimated by climate change, stranding what remains of humanity on a train.Welcome to Snowpiercer’s Apocalypse
June 29, 2014
“I am a little surprised they did not think the networks were decimated in 2012,” he said.
“A lot of their networks are decimated at this point,” one U.S. intelligence official said.
A decimated enemy in the first flush of annoyance can be dangerous.
Decimated, out-worn, but dangerous, the aiding regiments from the left did well.The Long Roll
I cured Patty Dence of diphtheria, when it decimated the village.Put Yourself in His Place
Both ships were badly riddled by shot, and their crews were decimated.Across the Spanish Main
Where was all his legacy of knowledge when Norfolk was decimated?Medical Essays
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
- to destroy or kill a large proportion ofa plague decimated the population
- (esp in the ancient Roman army) to kill every tenth man of (a mutinous section)
Word Origin and History for decimated
c.1600, in reference to the practice of punishing mutinous military units by capital execution of one in every 10, by lot; from Latin decimatus, past participle of decimare (see decimation). Killing one in ten, chosen by lots, from a rebellious city or a mutinous army was a common punishment in classical times. The word has been used (incorrectly, to the irritation of pedants) since 1660s for "destroy a large portion of." Related: Decimated; decimating.