from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The killing or destruction of a large portion of a population.
  • n. A tithing.
  • n. A selection of every tenth person by lot, as for punishment.
  • n. The creation of a new sequence comprising only every nth element of the original sequence.
  • n. A digital signal processing technique for reducing the number of samples in a discrete-time signal.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A tithing.
  • n. A selection of every tenth person by lot, as for punishment.
  • n. The destruction of any large proportion, as of people by pestilence or war.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A tithing; specifically, an income-tax of 10 per cent. levied on the Cavaliers by Cromwell.
  • n. A selection of every tenth by lot, as for punishment, etc.
  • n. The destruction of a great but indefinite number or proportion of people, as of an army or of the inhabitants of a country; a heavy loss of life.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. destroying or killing a large part of the population (literally every tenth person as chosen by lot)


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin decimātiō, a punishment where every 10th man in a unit would be stoned to death by the men who were spared. Used by the Romans to keep order in their military. Compare septimation and vicesimation.


  • Five hundred men were caught shirking their duty; one out of every ten was selected for execution, which is why the procedure was called decimation analogous to our word decimal, that is, one-tenth.

    The Spartacus War

  • In the United States we have watched the long term decimation of the manufacturing sector and a transition to a "service" economy.

    Economic Globalization and Speculation Coming Home to Roost

  • The Romans even figured out how to deter cowardice that causes the death of others with the technique called decimation: If a legion lost a battle and there was suspicion of cowardice, 10 percent of the soldiers and commanders - usually chosen at random - were put to death.

    NYT > Home Page

  • The St. Petersburg Times reported an absolute "decimation" of the game fish population with recent record-breaking cold temperatures.

    Georgianne Nienaber: Sanibel Island: Frigid Florida Waters Decimating Fish and Turtles

  • No, the prologue for the decimation (which has already happened, since "decimation" refers to reduction by one-tenth, and since 2006 you've lost well more than that) was that people like you, except perhaps with marginally better communication skills, have been running the thing.

    Election Central Morning Roundup

  • Yoo bemoans the "decimation" of US intelligence capabilities and the "persecution" of CIA, but predictably takes no responsibility for how his own egregiously sloppy legal advice exposes to legal jeopardy the military and intelligence personnel whom he unctuously praises.

    Frank Naif: Yoo's Bad Lawyering, Not Investigations, Threatens CIA

  • To be ashamed of being a flawed human who makes mistakes, is the responsibility of the person/group/s allowing laws of decimation which is abuse.

    ACLU To Challenge Taylor Fall’s Sex Offender Ordinance

  • I mean, it was... interesting, I suppose, but it smacked of imposing our own modern notions of "decimation" onto a Roman practice.

    Archive 2005-07-01

  • Santa Anna ordered their "decimation," which meant that every tenth man was shot, their lot being determined by the drawing of a black bean from an earthen pot containing a certain proportion of white ones.

    Crooked Trails

  • Hueso argued today that a revenue increase is needed to prevent the further "decimation" of city services, especially public safety.

    San Diego News


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "One of the inherited legacies from Chevron's 2001 acquisition of Texaco is litigation in Ecuador over the company's alleged decimation of the Ecuadorian Amazon over a 20-year period of operation. In 1993, 30,000 indigenous Ecuadorians filed a class action suit in U.S. courts, alleging that Texaco had poisoned the land where they live and the waterways on which they rely, allowing billions of gallons of oil to spill and leaving hundreds of waste pits unlined and uncovered. They sought billions in compensation for the harm to their land and livelihood, and for alleged health harms."

    - Robert Weissman, 'The System Implodes: The 10 Worst Corporations of 2008', The Multinational Monitor, 23 Nov 2008.

    November 26, 2008