Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Decimate: The word suggests an absolute slaughter, and saying you decimated someone is to say you defeated them absolutely and totally.

However, the literal meaning of this word, as all you lovers of Latin know all too well, is “to reduce by one-tenth,” supposedly from the punitive custom of selecting one out of ten captives by lot and killing those so selected as a show of force against enemies. Reducing by 10% isn't really decimating, is it?

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