Evidence for DECIMATE ('one in ten')

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Jan 9 20:00:57 UTC 2008

At 1/9/2008 02:03 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>More fun: In its own usage note, the _New Oxford American
>Dictionary_ says that "It is generally agreed that _decimate_ should
>not be used to mean 'defeat utterly.'"
>   So evidently a bunch of super-quasi-illiterates  (students and
> the sportswriters they have become, I assume) have been doing just
> that. Citations anyone?

Have we actually seen recently any examples that mean "defeat
utterly" in the sense of "no one left"?  I wouldn't use it that way
myself, reserving "decimate" even in the "loose and rhetorical" sense
for "devastate, but leave some surviving".


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list