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View Diary: Did Rice misuse the word “decimate”? (32 comments)

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  •  Everybody misuses Decimate. (9+ / 0-)

    It means "reduce by 10%, at your own hands".  It was in many ways more a psychological punishment, a way to try to salvage the remaining 90% by making them do something so horrible (slaying their own comrades, chosen by lot) they'd atone for whatever misdeed they've done.

    What it means in common use these days though?  It is a synonym for "Devastate".  

    We might as well get over it.  In Latin, it meant "a legion kills 10% of its own as punishment for really bad behavior".

    In 21st century American English, it means "Devastate"

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