More on "decimate"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Feb 12 19:23:34 UTC 2008

It differs in that cities and turnip fields are made up of individual elements, a portion of which can be "decimated," no matter what you mean by thyat word.

  A cathedral, OTOH, is an integral object (and let's not get metaphysical here). As much I'd like to do destroy my computer and all things associated with it, I would never think of "decimating" it. Because that's, like,  impossible!

  John: no.

goofy dreaming <goofy at DREAMING.ORG> wrote:
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Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: goofy dreaming
Subject: Re: More on "decimate"

How is it different from this

...mercantile districts of cities are likely to be decimated by direct hits
of explosive bombs or incendiary bombs - Horatio Bond, ed., Fire Defense,

...a severe frost set in... and my field of turnips was absolutely
decimated; scarce a root was left untouched - Scotsman, 1839 (in Hodgson

Both from Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage page 321

On Feb 12, 2008 12:37 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Jonathan Lighter
> Subject: More on "decimate"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> So the latest is, "to destroy; reduce to rubble":
> 2006 Brad Prager in Wilfried Wilms & William Rasch, eds. _Bombs Away!_
> (Amsterdam: Rodopi) 25: The destruction of Germany caused by the Air War has
> been conventionally represented through images of decimated cathedrals and
> crucifixes skewed in all directions.
> This usage must be stopped because a voice in my brain tells me I've
> never encountered it before plus it sounds stupid. Or did I see an example
> here earlier?
> If so, it still sounds stupid. Brad Prager is Associate Professor of
> German at the University of Missouri, Columbia.
> JL
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