Definition of decimation in US English:



  • 1The killing or destruction of a large proportion of a group or species.

    ‘our growing hunger for fish has resulted in the decimation of fish stocks’
    ‘the decimation of our rainforests’
    • ‘Today I read that we are facing the biggest decimation of species in the history of the planet.’
    • ‘None of the revenue from permits is invested in research for Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, which causes widespread decimation in wild Australian cockatoos and parrots.’
    • ‘Biologists began to notice the rapid decline of the remaining native species in our forests and looked for solutions that would protect them from further decimation.’
    • ‘Caribbean civilization, as we know it today, began with the brutal decimation of the first peoples and the establishment of sugar plantations.’
    • ‘There was no real reason for their tragedy, except starvation and overcrowding and the hunt for scapegoats - ancient and immutable causes for tribal decimation.’
    • ‘The turn of the century was therefore unique in its simultaneous decimation of humans, livestock, and wildlife, allowing large tracts of land to revert from agricultural use to forest.’
    • ‘In response to a planned mining operation that would have resulted in severe environmental decimation, he campaigned for and created the first community managed forest preserve.’
    • ‘In 1853 Perry was greeted with an earthquake centered right in the city, causing further decimation.’
    • ‘Before we disappear forever, Gray argues that we will face serious decimation: climate change may be a mechanism through which the planet eases its human burden.’
    • ‘Australia's winter crops, slashed by half in 2002, face decimation once again.’
    1. 1.1 A drastic reduction in the strength or effectiveness of something.
      ‘we need to halt the decimation of this country's manufacturing base’
      ‘economic and financial decimation from two world wars’
      • ‘The book begins with the birth of the first women's organizations in Lyon and ends with the decimation of the women's union movement in 1944.’
      • ‘They say their ongoing dispute is no longer just about pay but also about preventing the decimation of Britain's fire service.’
      • ‘The party started a consultation with its grass roots last night in a bid to rebuild itself following its decimation in the general election.’
      • ‘It seemed to those who watched the movement that nothing could save this company from decimation.’
      • ‘He believes that despite the decimation in technology stocks, there are still lots of opportunities for investors.’
      • ‘She struck me as a fine identification figure for young women, especially of the 'office secretary class' - a conspicuous subculture, before its decimation by social change.’
      • ‘But patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel - especially a scoundrel facing electoral decimation within months!’
      • ‘Other industries are also facing further decimation.’
      • ‘Events abroad completed the party's decimation.’
      • ‘The novel's plot describes the decimation of masculine culture necessary for women to create a non-patriarchal utopian society.’
  • 2historical The killing of one in every ten of a group of people as a punishment for the whole group (originally with reference to a mutinous Roman legion).

    • ‘Antonius executed the decimation: he divided his men by ten legions, and then of them he put the tenth legion to death.’
    • ‘It is debatable whether decimation be a convenient mode of military execution.’
    • ‘For entire units that did not do their duty in battle, there was the judgment of decimation - the execution of every tenth man until all were gone or the punishment was suspended.’
    • ‘This produced numerous field executions and the frequent use of decimation against undisciplined units.’
    • ‘They had the job of dealing punishments, such as decimation, where one soldier out of ten was selected for the wrongdoings of another, and the other nine soldiers would stone the luckless soldier to death.’