wordplay

There’s something that’s really been bothering me, in the linguistic sense.  This isn’t my old lie vs. lay peeve (although, FOR THE RECORD, the verb to lie–that is, to place oneself in a supine position along some horizontal surface–is conjugated in the present as: I lie, you lie, he/she/it lies, we lie, you (pl.) lie, they lie.  LAY is ONLY used in the PAST TENSE when referring to the verb “to lie.”  You are not “laying” at a given moment unless an egg is actually popping out of your ass [in which case, you might want to see someone about that].  Alas, I fear that it is too late to turn the tide and save the poor verb.  If the verb is New Orleans, its misuse is the Gulf of Mexico.), but rather it has to do w/ the word decimate.  Decimate, a word of Latin origin, means “to destroy a great number or proportion of” or “to kill every tenth person of” (thus reducing a population by 10%, which makes sense, given that the prefix of the word comes from decem, ten).  It does NOT mean “to destroy completely,” but lately I’ve been seeing it used to imply just that.  I don’t know why, since English has some very handy words which really do have that meaning, like “annihilate” and “eradicate.”  I guess people like the sound of “decimate,” but it’s really incorrect to use it to describe utter destruction.  So let’s try and extirpate this little error, shall we?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s