V2 Vocabulary Building Dictionary



Definition: 1. to reduce drastically or destroy a large portion of; 2. to inflict such damage as to virtually destroy

Synonyms: annihilate, exterminate, destroy, devastate, eliminate, extinguish, eradicate, wipe out

Antonyms: save, preserve, create

Tips: Decimate is derived from the Latin decimare, meaning "to take a tenth." The archaic meaning of decimate was "to kill one in every ten men as selected by lot." This strategy was sometimes used against mutinous soldiers. The modern meaning of decimate is effectively the reverse of the original meaning. Rather than killing a tenth, decimate now usually refers to the destruction of a larger portion or majority of a group or population. There is some debate over the change in decimate's meaning among scholars, but most agree to its modern usage. In business discussions, decimate is used to describe enormous financial loss.

Usage Examples:

Rapid industrialization can decimate native animal populations unless consideration is given to the preservation of at least some natural habitat areas. (extinguish, destroy, reduce)

Nuclear warfare can decimate an entire population in an instant. (annihilate)

The collapse of the corporation decimated the savings of many company employees who held large amounts of the company’s stock. (wiped out, eliminated)

The Asian financial crisis decimated sales for many international companies. (destroyed, eliminated)

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