The word “decimate” means to destroy or kill a large portion or a significant number of something, typically referring to a population or a group. It originates from the Latin word “decimare,” which literally means “to take a tenth.”

Interesting fact: In ancient Rome, the term “decimate” had a specific meaning. It referred to a military punishment where one in every ten soldiers in a disobedient or mutinous unit would be chosen by lot and executed by their fellow soldiers. This severe punishment was intended to instill discipline and deter future misconduct. Over time, the meaning of “decimate” has evolved to encompass a broader sense of destruction or significant reduction.