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[dih-sem-ver] /dɪˈsɛm vər/
noun, plural decemvirs, decemviri
[dih-sem-vuh-rahy] /dɪˈsɛm vəˌraɪ/ (Show IPA)
a member of a permanent board or a special commission of ten members in ancient Rome, especially the commission that drew up Rome's first code of law.
a member of any council or ruling body of ten.
1570-80; < Latin, orig. plural decemvirī, equivalent to decem ten + virī men
Related forms
decemviral, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for decemviri


noun (pl) -virs, -viri (-vɪˌriː)
(in ancient Rome) a member of a board of ten magistrates, esp either of the two commissions established in 451 and 450 bc to revise the laws
a member of any governing body composed of ten men
Derived Forms
decemviral, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin, from decem ten + virī men
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
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Encyclopedia Article for decemviri

(Latin: "ten men"), in ancient Rome, any official commission of 10. The designation is most often used in reference to decemviri legibus scribundis, a temporary legislative commission that supplanted the regular magistracy from 451 to 449 BC. It was directed to construct a code of laws that would resolve the power struggle between the patricians and the plebeians. The first board of decemvirs ruled with moderation and prepared 10 tables of law in 451 BC. A second board completed the laws of the Twelve Tables with two laws less favourable to the plebeians. In 449 BC, when they became tyrannical, the decemvirs were forced to abdicate.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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