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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from despoil

despoiler noun
despoilment \ di-​ˈspȯi(-​ə)l-​mənt How to pronounce despoilment (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 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 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 Islanders worried that pollution would damage architecture, despoil the marine environment and deter tourists. The Economist, "African countries plan to build dozens of coal-fired power stations," 25 July 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about despoil

Statistics for despoil

Last Updated

13 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for despoil

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for despoil

despoil

verb
How to pronounce despoil (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of despoil

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on despoil

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for despoil

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with despoil

Spanish Central: Translation of despoil

Nglish: Translation of despoil for Spanish Speakers

Comments on despoil

What made you want to look up despoil? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

meddlesome, informal, or unofficial

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!