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I thought Al Queda was decimated?

The word decimate is often misused. The ancient Romans, when they had a legion that underperformed, would punish it by reducing its ranks. Every tenth legionaire would be killed (i.e. 10% of the legion would be killed). 90% of Al Queda being alive is still a lot of terrorists alive.


The word decimate comes from the Latin word decimare meaning to take or destroy one-tenth (from the Latin word decem meaning ten). For a Roman legion deemed to have failed in its duties this meant that one in ten legionnaires would be selected, stripped of their armour and beaten to death by their comrades. This would obviously kill one tenth and therefore decimate the offending legion. Marcus Licinius Crassus enforced an example of this during his campaign against the renegade gladiator Spartacus. Crassus’s legate Mummius engaged the rebel gladiators early, against Crassus’s wishes, and was defeated. 500 men of the legion involved were deemed to have shown cowardice and Crassus had one tenth killed - that is he decimated the legion to restore discipline.
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