One doesn’t have to be a Latin scholar to recognize that this term is related to “decimal,” and other ideas related to the number ten, so the idea that it is synonymous, as frequently used, with “devastate,” implying utter destruction, seems misplaced. According to some sources, decimation was form of extreme punishment within the Roman army whereby one out of every ten soldiers was killed for a unit’s mutinous actions or similar major infractions of military discipline. It also (perhaps earlier?) refers to tithing (donating 1/10th) to the Church or crown.
Yes, I know that language does grow and change over time and that this word has come to imply significant destruction (often exceeding one tenth), but it still bothers me, when the root of the word so clearly implies something to do with the concept of “tenness,” that this is ignored in common usage.
Oh, well, maybe I’ll grow out of it. Or, maybe others will come to see that, even if this is, technically, correct, it doesn’t really make sense when it so obviously is related to “deci,” implying something related to “tenness.”