When did the word "decimate" officially become not a specific measurement? .
Dictionary.com has one source saying the usage changed in the 19th century and another saying the less specific meaning originated in the 17th century. ‎· John B.
It bothers me so much when people use it to mean "destroyed most of" something; it's supposed to mean that 10% of something was destroyed, but that's not what the dictionary says anymore. ‎· Mr. Noodle
^^^ drives me batty also. ‎· orgmonkey
To me, it's kind of like the transition of the word "literally". It makes me sad and angry at the same time. ‎· Mr. Noodle
I'd guesstimate it happened an approximate time ago. ‎· Micah
Google says: decimate/ˈdɛsɪmeɪt/ verb kill, destroy, or remove a large proportion of. kill one in every ten of (a group of people, originally a mutinous Roman legion) as a punishment for the whole group. ‎· Halil
decimate (v.) c. 1600, in reference to the practice of punishing mutinous military units by capital execution of one in every 10, by lot; from Latin decimatus, past participle of decimare (see decimation). Killing one in ten, chosen by lots, from a rebellious city or a mutinous army was a common punishment in classical times. The word has been used (incorrectly, to the irritation of pedants) since 1660s for "destroy a large portion of." Related: Decimated; decimating. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=decimate ‎· Halil