OK, I've had it. I don't know who started it. I hear it a lot, especially from TV news reporters, and it makes me nuts.
"Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans."
No it did not. You mean devastated.
Decimated means reduced by one tenth ("dec" = ten - you know, like in decimal or decade?). It comes from Latin and the term originated with the Roman
Picture this: you are a centurion in command of ten soldiers. Here they are:
They did a lousy job guarding the supply wagon, so you have to punish them. You pick one soldier and whap his punkin head, killing him.
That's decimated. Got it?