English Dictionary

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decimate (ˈdɛsɪˌmeɪt



  1. to destroy or kill a large proportion of   ⇒  ■ a plague decimated the population
  2. (esp in the ancient Roman army) to kill every tenth man of (a mutinous section)
USAGE One talks about the whole of something being decimated, not a part: disease decimated the population, not disease decimated most of the population

Derived Forms

ˌdeciˈmation  noun
ˈdeciˌmator  noun

Word Origin

C17: from Latin decimāre, from decimus tenth, from decem ten


View thesaurus entry
= destroy, devastate, wipe out, ravage, eradicate, annihilate, put paid to, lay waste, wreak havoc on
= reduce, diminish, decrease, weaken, lessen, wind down, downsize, kennet (Australian) (slang), jeff (Australian) (slang)

Translations for 'decimate'

  • British English: decimate To decimate something such as a group of people or animals means to destroy a very large number of them. VERBThe pollution could decimate the river's thriving population of kingfishers.
  • Brazilian Portuguese: dizimar
  • Chinese: 大量毁灭大量毁毀灭滅
  • European Spanish: diezmar
  • French: décimer
  • German: dezimieren
  • Italian: decimare
  • Japanese: 多くを殺す
  • Korean: 대량 학살하다
  • Portuguese: dizimar
  • Spanish: diezmar

Example Sentences Including 'decimate'

The Russians stalled the attack and proceeded to smash the Italian army and decimate the air transport fleet.
We are bringing up massed multiple rocket-launchers to decimate the enemy before the tanks move in.
Shah, Idries Kara Kush


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