Some media people love to mis-use this term. According to historians, it refers to cutting your own troops back by killing one in ten for LOSING a battle or war, or something warlike activity wise.
In the Victorian conflagrations the past few years, the term decimate was misused a bit. When the media pundits referred to a decimated wilderness, what are they talking about really, and were firefighters cut back by one in ten for not putting out fires? Or that ten percent of the vegetation SURVIVED?
Maybe DEVASTATED regions would be a better term, don’t you think?
Other media reports have used the term as well- I mean, if you are a journalist, is not history a part of your pre-graduation education? High school even? From reading Colleen McCullough novels, it would make the term pretty memorable for a life time.
BTW I think it is a metric standard too, not imperial. Why?
Maybe by Gais Julius Caesar’s time, the Romans may have made the threat to lose in war more scary, up grading the disciplining the troops from losing one in twelve in the good old days to one in ten once he had taken over Gaul, you know, to fit in with the locals?