- 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 decimation
But the site has seen little of the decimation from heavy tourism that has plagued the northern pyramids of Giza in Egypt.Egypt Ain’t The Only Pyramid Show In Town
December 11, 2014
In Texas, the grave consequences of the decimation of state family-planning funds in 2011 are already evident.Isabel Allende: How a Mysterious Baby Girl Sparked My Fight for Women
October 20, 2012
They, too, feared another insurrection and a second decimation.Critical Miscellanies (Vol. 1 of 3)
Was this the case with even a decimation of the army who rushed to defend Washington?
What is our compensation for the decimation of our young men?
The Texans in their escape and conflicts had lost five men, and Santa Anna demanded the decimation of the rest.
Then the figure-four trap springs up in the hedgerow and the sedge while the work of decimation goes more rapidly along.Our Vanishing Wild Life
William T. Hornaday
- 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 decimation
mid-15c., from Late Latin decimationem (nominative decimatio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin decimare "the removal or destruction of one-tenth," from decem "ten" (see ten). Earliest sense in English was of a tithe; punishment sense is from 1580s; transferred sense of "much destruction, severe loss" recorded from 1680s.
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.