I was using “decimate” in the modern, not archaic sense.
1. to destroy a significant number or proportion of.
2. to wipe out almost entirely: the industry was decimated.
3. (in the ancient Roman army) to select by lot and kill every tenth soldier
of (a body of soldiers) as a punishment.
4. Obsolete to
take a tenth of or from.
(say desuh'mayshuhn), noun
Usage: Originally this word referred to
the killing of one in ten, and by extension to the destruction of some part of the whole. It is now frequently used to refer to almost total destruction, but despite the weight of corpus evidence in favour of this shift in meaning, some writers still do not
Historically, the meaning of the word decimate is ‘kill one in every ten of (a group of people)’. This sense
has been more or less totally superseded by the later, more general sense ‘kill, destroy, or remove a large proportion of’, as in the virus has decimated the population. Some traditionalists argue that this is incorrect, but it is clear that
it is now part of standard English.
But see also:
From: Philip Veerman [
Sent: Tuesday, 19 January 2016 11:08 PM
To: 'John Bundock'
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Powl & ringtail
Good. A ringtail family of 10! that would be a lot. Once decimated that would leave 9, then it will be impossible to decimate them again.
From: John Bundock
Sent: Tuesday, 19 January 2016 11:03 PM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Powl & ringtail
After a shortage of mammalian prey over the past 2 months, Powl has its second ringtail in 3 days. it must have found a new ringtail family to decimate.
At Haig Park side of pinoak behind greenkeepers building; high up at the end of long branch stretching into Haig Park.