Decimate (vt)

Today is August 23. On this day in 1977, Bryan Allen achieved the first human powered flight by pedaling the Gossamer Condor, an aircraft designed by Paul MacReady, in a figure-eight course. Mr. Allen would go on to power another flight across the English Channel in the Gossamer Albatross, another of Paul Mac Ready’s designs. In 1927, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, in a gross miscarriage of justice, were executed at the Charlestown State Prison in Massachusetts. Finally, today is the birthday (1912-1996) of the incomparable Gene Kelly.

Here is a context clues worksheet the verb decimate. It’s used transitively, and most frequently, strictly speaking, erroneously. It’s from the Latin (nota bene the Latin root dec, which means ten, and shows up in words like decade and decimal–a form of counting that proceeds in units of ten) and means, in its definition from Rome, where it was a means of disciplining Legions, “to select by lot and kill every tenth man of.” However, over time, it has come to mean “to reduce drastically especially in number” and “to cause great destruction or harm to.”

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

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