Definition of decimate verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

     

    decimate

     verb
    verb
    BrE BrE//ˈdesɪmeɪt//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈdesɪmeɪt//
     
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they decimate
    BrE BrE//ˈdesɪmeɪt//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈdesɪmeɪt//
     
    he / she / it decimates
    BrE BrE//ˈdesɪmeɪts//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈdesɪmeɪts//
     
    past simple decimated
    BrE BrE//ˈdesɪmeɪtɪd//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈdesɪmeɪtɪd//
     
    past participle decimated
    BrE BrE//ˈdesɪmeɪtɪd//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈdesɪmeɪtɪd//
     
    -ing form decimating
    BrE BrE//ˈdesɪmeɪtɪŋ//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈdesɪmeɪtɪŋ//
     
     
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  1. 1[usually passive] decimate something to kill large numbers of animals, plants or people in a particular area The rabbit population was decimated by the disease.
  2. 2decimate something (informal) to severely damage something or make something weaker Cheap imports decimated the British cycle industry.
  3. Word Origin late Middle English: from Latin decimat- ‘taken as a tenth’, from the verb decimare, from decimus ‘tenth’. In Middle English the term decimation denoted the levying of a tithe, and later the tax imposed by the English statesman Cromwell on the Royalists (1655).
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: decimate