Borrowed from Latin tertiāt-, the perfect passive participial stem of Latin tertiō, from tertius (third).



tertiate (third-person singular simple present tertiates, present participle tertiating, simple past and past participle tertiated)

  1. Reduce by one third; especially, kill one third of (a group of people).
    • 1912 May 3rd, F. Madan, “letter to Sir William [Osler]” quoted by Harvey Cushing in The Life of Sir William Osler II (2010), pages 999–1,000
      Seven spills of paper of precisely equal length were given round, and after an interval collected. Had any of them been dimidiated, tertiated or even decimated, the proposed election was void.
    • 1979, Frank Gervasi, The Life and Times of Menahem Begin, page 42
      “The Jews…were not merely decimated, for that means only one in ten of the world’s Jews were killed by the Nazis, but tertiated. One in every three were slaughtered.”
    • 1981, Meron Medzini [ed.], Israel’s Foreign Relations: 1977–1979, page 85
      The Jewish People were not decimated…. Our people lost every third of its sons or its daughters…it was tertiated.
  2. (rare, obsolete) To do or perform for the third time.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Johnson to this entry?)
  3. (firearms) To examine, as the thickness of the metal at the muzzle of a gun; or, in general, to examine the thickness of, as ordnance, in order to ascertain its strength.

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Related termsEdit





  1. second-person plural present active imperative of tertiō