from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One of a body of ten Roman magistrates, especially a member of one of two such bodies appointed in 451 and 450 B.C. to draw up a code of laws.
  • n. One of an authoritative body of ten.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. One of a body of ten magistrates in ancient Rome.
  • n. A member of any body of ten men in authority.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One of a body of ten magistrates in ancient Rome.
  • n. A member of any body of ten men in authority.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One of the ten men, or decemviri, the title of four differently constituted bodies in ancient Rome.
  • n. By extension, one of any official body of men, ten in number. as the old Council of Ten in Venice.


Middle English, from Latin, sing. of decemvirī, commission of ten men : decem, ten; see dekm̥ in Indo-European roots + virī, pl. of vir, man; see wī-ro- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin decem, "ten", and vir, "man". (Wiktionary)


  • Rome, and Appius Claudius, the decemvir and lawgiver; whereof the former was indeed a voluptuous man, and inordinate; but the latter was an austere and wise man: and therefore it seems (though rarely) that love can find entrance, not only into an open heart, but also into a heart well fortified, if watch be not well kept.

    The Essays

  • Virginius, in killing his daughter, to preserve her from falling a victim to the lust of the decemvir Claudius, was guilty of the highest rashness; since he might certainly have gained the people, already irritated against the tyrant, without imbruing his hands in his own blood.

    Sketches of the Fair Sex, in All Parts of the World

  • The decemvir, engrossed in mind by his lustful propensities, states that not only from the abusive language of Icilius yesterday, and the violence of Virginius, of which he had the entire Roman people as witnesses, but from authentic information also he ascertained, that cabals were held in the city during the whole night to stir up a sedition.

    The History of Rome, Books 01 to 08

  • For this man, formerly distinguished at home and abroad, his office of decemvir and his colleagues had so changed, that he chose rather to be like to Appius than like himself.

    The History of Rome, Books 01 to 08

  • Having set out, they leave Appius Claudius, son of the decemvir, as prefect of the city, a young man of great energy, and one who had ever from his cradle imbibed a hatred of the tribunes and the commons.

    The History of Rome, Books 01 to 08

  • To them the assembly pays attention, they drown with clamour the voice of the decemvir.

    The History of Rome, Books 01 to 08

  • In reply to such peremptory language of the tribunes, when amazement at the insolence of their conduct and silence struck all the rest of the patricians motionless, Appius Claudius Crassus, the grandson of the decemvir, is said to have stepped forward to refute their arguments,

    The History of Rome, Books 01 to 08

  • He also held two of the minor offices of the _vigintiviratus_, the preliminary to a senatorial career, being (1) triumvir capitalis or else triumvir monetalis, (2) decemvir stlitibus iudicandis.

    The Student's Companion to Latin Authors

  • Meantime, Icilius held up the body of his loved one before the people in the forum, and bade them gaze on the work of their decemvir.

    The Story of Rome from the Earliest Times to the End of the Republic

  • But the name of the decemvir still carries terror with it, and the commons waver at the sound.

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 61, No. 379, May, 1847


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