Tories Not Decimated, No, But Octagintaquinquemated

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Not that I’ve got the word quite right here myself but this is part of our regular complaint that the arts graduates who write the newspapers don’t even get the language right. Over and above their well known inability to understand numbers.

The Telegraph describes the Tory results as a decimation:

The Conservatives have been decimated in the European elections and recorded their worst result in history as Nigel Farage’s six-week-old Brexit Party triumphed.

This is not correct, not in the slightest.

Decimation was a Roman punishment for a mutinous Legion – among other things. 10%,  one in ten, of the troops would be picked by lot. Then the other 90% would beat them to death. Any not partaking enthusiastically being tossed into the mob to be beaten to death in their turn. Most of that does describe the Conservative Party. Except for the deci- bit. Because of course they’ve not lost 10%:

Nigel Farage’s party came top in the North East, North West, East of England, Wales, West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire & Humber, the South West and South East. This came largely at the expense of the Conservative Party. Theresa May’s party have lost a huge share of the vote across all regions, so far losing 15 MEP seats to a total of three.

They did have 18 seats, they’ve now got three. That’s just not a deci-anything. They’ve lost, what, 85% of their seats? That’s therefore an octagintaquinquemation. Not that that’s a word either but it is rather closer to what happened.

Good.

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Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

Will their much deserved Octagintaquinquemation foster a change in attitude amongst the parliamentary party? The odds are uncertain, and if fools and their money are easily parted all bets should be off.

TC
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TC

if decimation means 1 out of 10 die, and a reduction from 18 to 3 means 5 out of 6 lost their seats, shouldn’t it be something like quinque-sexi-mation?

[later edit] … maybe quinque-sextus, or ex-quinque-in-sex, is closer to five-sixths than quinque-sexi; it’s been a long time since my alterboy Latin