English Dictionary

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decimate (ˈdɛsɪˌmeɪt Pronunciation for decimate


verb (transitive)

  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)
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, jeff

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'

Did this tribe decimate that tribe 600 years ago in the Balkans?
Globe and Mail (2003)
Infectious diseases that decimate the life force of entire continents.
SA Star (2005)
It was not enough that revolution should stain our cities with blood and a dreadful murrain decimate our cattle...
Christy Campbell PHYLLOXERA: How Wine was Saved for the World (2004)
One, decimate costs and two, focus on differentiation in the marketplace.
Business Today (2000)
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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