vicesimation

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Probably formed by the suffixation of the Latin vīcēsimus (twentieth) with the English -ation on the pattern of decimation, but compare the Latin vīcēsimātiō (a killing of every twentieth man); the spelling vigesimation is an alteration of vicesimation under the influence of vigesimal.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (UK) enPR: vī'sēsĭmāʹshən, vĭ'sĭsĭmāʹshən, IPA(key): /ˌvaɪsiːsɪˈmeɪʃən/, /ˌvɪsɪsɪˈmeɪʃən/

Noun[edit]

vicesimation

  1. (rare) The destruction of one-twentieth of something; especially, the killing or putting to death of every twentieth person, especially by lot.
    • 1834, Samuel Hibbert et alii, History of the Foundations in Manchester of Chirst’s College, Chetham’s Hospital, and the Free Grammar School, volume 2, page 124
      The common prisoners…were ordered to cast lots for every twentieth man to be tried, as a sort of vicesimation.
    • 1901, Joseph Fitzgerald, Word and Phrase: True and False Use in English, page 273
      We must change the numerator of our fraction.…If one must have the precise fractional term in “ation,” and the loss is one in five, let him coin the word quintation…if one in twenty, vicesimation.
    • 1961, Victor M Yeates, Winged Victory, page 99
      ‘This seems to be a wonderful squadron. Fancy getting twenty Huns in one day! And for only one casualty.’
      ‘If you work out what one casualty a day mounts up to, you will notice that we shall all be casualties within a month. It’s daily vigesimation.’
    • 1964, Kenneth Burke [aut.] and Stanley Edgar Hyman [ed.], Perspectives by Incongruity, volume 2, page 58
      The practice…of putting to death every twentieth man. Am I…a victim of vigesimation?
    • 1995, David Grambs, Just Ask Mr. Wordwizard, page 123
      To decimate, originally, was a military punishment, determined by lot, whereby every tenth man was executed. A little luckier for the troops was vigesimation: every twentieth man was killed.

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