Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. large; chief; applied to an extraordinary billow, supposed by some to be every tenth in order.
  • n. An extraordinarily large billow.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Large; chief; -- applied to an extraordinary billow, supposed by some to be every tenth in order. [R.] Also used substantively.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In Rom. milit. antiq., an epithet applied to a gate of the Roman camp near which the tenth cohorts of the legions were encamped. The decuman gate was the principal entrance to the camp, and was that furthest from the enemy.
  • Large; immense: used especially of waves.
  • n. In astrology, one of the ten divisions of the ecliptic.
  • n. A large wave.

Etymologies

Latin decumanus of the tenth, and by metonymy, large, from decem ten. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In the camp, meanwhile, the consul Furius, after remaining inactive during the first days of the siege, made a sortie from the "decuman" gate and surprised the enemy, and though he could have pursued him, he refrained from doing so, fearing lest the camp might be attacked from the other side.

    The History of Rome, Vol. I

  • In "The Year is Gone" there is great tenderness of sentiment and grace of expression; "Love Disposed of" is a pretty fancy embodied with true lyric feeling; but the poem which over crests all the others like a decuman wave is "The Brave Old Ship, the Orient."

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 05, No. 32, June, 1860

  • The Palazzo Madama stands on the site of the old decuman gate, which became a castle in the Middle

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 15: Tournely-Zwirner

  • After disposing of the guard they entered the camp through the decuman gate and got possession of the quaestor's tent, the quaestor, L. Opimius Pansa, being killed.

    The History of Rome, Vol. II

  • Pope Joan, the Wandering Jew, the decuman or tenth wave, the blackness of negroes, Friar Bacon's brazen head, etc.

    Brief History of English and American Literature

  • Joan, the Wandering Jew, the decuman or tenth wave, the blackness of negroes, Friar Bacon's brazen head, etc.

    From Chaucer to Tennyson

  • The word was "decuman," which tends to get used in relation to waves, as in, "the belief that every 10th wave is greater than the others."

    SI.com

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