despoil

play
verb de·spoil \ di-ˈspȯi(-ə)l \

Definition of despoil

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

despoiler

noun

despoilment

play \-mənt\ noun

Examples of despoil in a Sentence

  1. The landscape has been despoiled by industrial development.

  2. the burglars despoiled the art museum in search of treasures they thought they could sell to a fence

Recent Examples of despoil from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of despoil

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

despoil Synonyms

Synonym Discussion of 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

DESPOIL Defined for English Language Learners

despoil

play
verb

Definition of despoil for English Language Learners

  • : to severely damage or ruin (a place)

  • : to forcefully take what is valuable from (a place)



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