1 definition by Dr. Strangelove77

the verb to "decimate" comes from the root of the Latin word for ten. Obvious enough, but the use gets more interesting. The verb "To decimate" is synonymous with "to destroy" and may be used to talk about a great reduction, loss, etc. "Decimation" was used as a Roman military strategy, as punishment for a severe crime, typically rebellion or desertion, the army would be forcibly lined up, and every tenth person would be killed. The form of group punishment based on the number ten is an adequate enough explanation for the origin of the word. Today, the word can be used in a less mathematical context, and still be grammatically correct, though it's still an intense verb.
General Sherman's tactics in the South decimated the Confederate's power by destroying the land and cutting off economic growth.
by Dr. Strangelove77 April 8, 2009
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