despoil

verb
de·​spoil | \ di-ˈspȯi(-ə)l How to pronounce despoil (audio) \
despoiled; despoiling; despoils

Definition of despoil

transitive verb

: to strip of belongings, possessions, or value : pillage

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Other Words from despoil

despoiler noun
despoilment \ di-​ˈspȯi(-​ə)l-​mənt How to pronounce despoil (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for despoil

ravage, devastate, waste, sack, pillage, despoil mean to lay waste by plundering or destroying. ravage implies violent often cumulative depredation and destruction. a hurricane ravaged the coast devastate implies the complete ruin and desolation of a wide area. an earthquake devastated the city waste may imply producing the same result by a slow process rather than sudden and violent action. years of drought had wasted the area sack implies carrying off all valuable possessions from a place. barbarians sacked ancient Rome pillage implies ruthless plundering at will but without the completeness suggested by sack. settlements pillaged by Vikings despoil applies to looting or robbing without suggesting accompanying destruction. the Nazis despoiled the art museums

Examples of despoil in a Sentence

The landscape has been despoiled by industrial development. the burglars despoiled the art museum in search of treasures they thought they could sell to a fence
Recent Examples on the Web The 2008 financial crisis exposed the economic folly and moral bankruptcy of a system that relied on bribing executives with stock options to squeeze workers, bamboozle customers, despoil the environment and dodge taxes. Washington Post, "The right formula for managing a socially responsible company? There is none.," 5 Oct. 2020 Farm Aid, like other companies, has rejected non-organic cotton that requires extensive use of synthetic fertilizers, soil additives, defoliants and other chemicals that despoil the land. Billboard, "Merch To Match Its Mission: How Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid Responsibly Sources T-Shirts," 21 Sep. 2020 Ms Ellmann mourns ecosystems despoiled by modern humankind. The Economist, "“Ducks, Newburyport” is an ingenious feat of storytelling," 24 Oct. 2019 Here in a primitive wilderness despoiled by European invaders, where black men and women are rounded up, murdered and hanged from trees, a much farther-reaching tragedy comes into startling focus. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘The Nightingale’ is a brilliant, horrifying tale of revenge," 15 Aug. 2019 Here in a primitive wilderness despoiled by European invaders, where black men and women are rounded up, murdered and hanged from trees, a much farther-reaching tragedy comes into startling focus. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘The Nightingale’ is a brilliant, horrifying tale of revenge," 15 Aug. 2019 Here in a primitive wilderness despoiled by European invaders, where black men and women are rounded up, murdered and hanged from trees, a much farther-reaching tragedy comes into startling focus. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘The Nightingale’ is a brilliant, horrifying tale of revenge," 15 Aug. 2019 Proponents of Warren’s plan might argue that this would benefit workers in the U.S., by saving jobs from unfair overseas competition by countries that abuse their workers and despoil their environments. Noah Smith, Twin Cities, "Noah Smith: Warren’s trade plan does poor nations no favors," 16 Aug. 2019 Here in a primitive wilderness despoiled by European invaders, where black men and women are rounded up, murdered and hanged from trees, a much farther-reaching tragedy comes into startling focus. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘The Nightingale’ is a brilliant, horrifying tale of revenge," 15 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'despoil.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of despoil

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for despoil

Middle English despoylen, from Anglo-French despoiller, from Latin despoliare, from de- + spoliare to strip, rob — more at spoil entry 1

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Time Traveler for despoil

Time Traveler

The first known use of despoil was in the 14th century

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Statistics for despoil

Cite this Entry

“Despoil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/despoil. Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for despoil

despoil

verb

English Language Learners Definition of despoil

literary
: to severely damage or ruin (a place)
: to forcefully take what is valuable from (a place)

More from Merriam-Webster on despoil

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for despoil

Nglish: Translation of despoil for Spanish Speakers

Comments on despoil

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