Now I remember the point I was trying to make, proving that misusing words is universal. And also proving how bad my obsessive-compulsive disorder has become. I may have mentioned before I choose to focus my anger on small things. You wanna know the one that really irks me when people misuse it?
People are always using it when they mean devastated, annihilated, almost wiped out. You know where it comes from? The Roman imperial army organised everything in multiples of ten. You know what decimated literally means? It means the loss of one in ten of your forces. Ten per cent.
Not ninety per cent, not three quarters, not even half. One in ten. Why do I hear the Foo Fighters in my head at the moment?. Anyway, so when I hear a newsreader say “The tsunami decimated the coastal villages,” I want them to clarify:
“Do you mean ten per cent of the buildings were destroyed?”
“Oh no, virtually all of them.”
“Oh, so not decimated, more like devastated or wiped out. But not decimated because that would mean only one in ten.” (I often have conversations with my TV.)
“Yes, but everybody knows what decimated means…”
Well, no. Apparently they don’t, least of all you. That’s my bloody point!
What the hell is wrong with you people?