What Does the Word Decimated Mean and How Did it Originate?

Around 1663, the word decimate began mean being destroyed through a catastrophe or severe loss.

But the word originated as a disciplinary practice of the Roman army.

Soldiers convicted of cowardice or mutiny were gathered into units of ten.

Lots were drawn, and the loser was decimated, clubbed and stoned to death, by the remaining nine.

Morale increased significantly after a Roman decimation.

After a decimation, the remaining nine convicted soldiers were given rations of barley instead of wheat and forced to sleep outside of the army encampment.

Although decimation inspired discipline and resolve, it was used sparingly because it significantly reduced troop strength.