from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- transitive v. To destroy or kill a large part of (a group).
- transitive v. Usage Problem To inflict great destruction or damage on: The fawns decimated my rose bushes.
- transitive v. Usage Problem To reduce markedly in amount: a profligate heir who decimated his trust fund.
- transitive v. To select by lot and kill one in every ten of.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- v. To kill one man chosen by lot out of every ten in a legion or other military group.
- v. To reduce anything by one in ten, or ten percent.
- v. To exact a tithe, or tax of 10 percent.
- v. To reduce to one-tenth.
- v. To severely reduce; to destroy almost completely.
- v. To replace a high-resolution model with one of lower resolution but acceptably similar appearance.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- transitive v. To take the tenth part of; to tithe.
- transitive v. To select by lot and punish with death every tenth man of.
- transitive v. To destroy a considerable part of
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- To take the tenth part of or from; tithe.
- To select by lot and put to death every tenth man of: as, to decimate a captured army or a body of prisoners or mutineers (a barbarity occasionally practised in antiquity).
- Loosely, to destroy a great but indefinite number or proportion of: as, the inhabitants were decimated by fever; the troops were decimated by the enemy's fire.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- v. kill in large numbers
- v. kill one in every ten, as of mutineers in Roman armies
I always flinch when I hear someone use the word decimate to mean "wipe out," as in, "The Sioux decimated Custer's men."
The word decimate does not begin to do justice to the tragedy that has befallen the Polish nation.
She said it would "decimate" the agriculture sector, where illegal workers fill 75% of the jobs.
After promising not to "decimate" education and programs for the most vulnerable, Brewer made the largest cut to education in state history.
The idea was based on the punishment meted out to "failing" legions in by Rome, and from which the word 'decimate', comes
I nominate 'decimate' as it applies to Man's and Nature's destructive fury and the outcome of sporting contests.
One day "hard drive" may indeed by an appropriate term for a PC base unit, due to mass perception of the meaning see "decimate" for a contemporary example, but not just yet.
(Thank Christ for that, one hears oneself murmuring, even though Amis would have reproved the incorrect use of the word "decimate" by anyone else.)
I hate it when people use the word "decimate" like that.
She said trimming another $1 million from the School Department budget would "decimate" the city's public school system, increasing classroom average sizes from about 20 to 22 students to approximately 30 to 35.