top of page



Definition of 'decimation'

A severe reduction or destruction of a population or a group, typically resulting in the loss of one-tenth or a significant proportion of its members.
"The hurricane resulted in the decimation of the coastal town, leaving it in ruins."

Detailed Meaning of 'decimation'

Historically, 'decimation' was a military punishment method used by the ancient Roman army. It involved randomly selecting and executing one out of every ten soldiers in a unit as a means of disciplining and instilling fear among the troops. In a broader sense, 'decimation' has come to represent a significant loss, devastation, or severe reduction in any context. It can refer to the decline or destruction of a population, an organization, or even an idea. The term implies a severe impact that leaves a lasting and significant impact, often resulting in a weakened or altered state. 'Decimation' signifies a notable and often painful reduction, leaving a lasting impact on the affected entity or group.


Examples of 'decimation' in a Sentence

1. The decimation of the forest due to logging has had a devastating effect on local wildlife.
2. The relentless storm led to the decimation of the coastal village.
3. The invading army was known for the decimation of towns that resisted their rule.
4. The decimation of the workforce during the economic downturn led to severe unemployment.
5. Conservationists are concerned about the decimation of the bee population and its effects on pollination.
6. The decimation of the ancient city by treasure hunters led to the loss of priceless artifacts and historical knowledge.

Anchor 1

Origins & Etymology of 'decimation'

The noun 'decimation' has its origins in the Latin word 'decimatio,' which stems from the verb 'decimare,' meaning 'to tithe' or 'to take a tenth.' In the historical context of ancient Rome, 'decimation' referred to a severe military punishment in which one-tenth of a disobedient or mutinous legion or group of soldiers was selected by lot and executed as a means of discipline. This harsh practice was employed to instill fear and maintain order within the ranks. Over time, the term 'decimation' evolved to encompass any situation involving a severe reduction or destruction of a population or group, typically resulting in the loss of one-tenth or a significant proportion of its members. Thus, the etymology of 'decimation' vividly reflects its historical association with the practice of taking a tenth as a punitive measure, which has since come to symbolize a substantial and often devastating loss.


How to pronounce decimation (audio)


bottom of page