Thursday, January 1, 2009

Decimation

Today Dinosaur Comics reminds us that precision in language is a virtue, with reference to a particular linguistic peeve of my own: the use of "decimate" to mean "utterly destroy". As the comic points out, and any pedant worth his salt ought to know, "decimate" means "destroy one tenth". I understand that "decimate" is a pretty cool word, but what I don't get is why people don't use "annihilate". It means precisely what most people intend to mean by "decimate", and sounds even cooler!

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