spoiled\ ˈspȯi(-​ə)ld How to pronounce spoiled (audio) , ˈspȯi(-​ə)lt \ or chiefly British spoilt\ ˈspȯi(-​ə)lt How to pronounce spoilt (audio) \; spoiling

Definition of spoil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to damage seriously : ruin
b : to impair the quality or effect of a quarrel spoiled the celebration
2a : to impair the disposition or character of by overindulgence or excessive praise
b : to pamper excessively : coddle
3a : pillage, rob
b archaic : despoil, strip
4 archaic : to seize by force

intransitive verb

1 : to lose valuable or useful qualities usually as a result of decay the fruit spoiled
2 : to have an eager desire spoiling for a fight
3 : to practice plunder and robbery


\ ˈspȯi(-ə)l How to pronounce spoil (audio) \

Definition of spoil (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : plunder taken from an enemy in war or from a victim in robbery : loot
b : something valuable or desirable gained through special effort or opportunism or in return for a favor usually used in plural
c : public offices made the property of a successful party usually used in plural
b : the act of damaging : harm, impairment
3 : an object of plundering : prey
4 : earth and rock excavated or dredged
5 : an object damaged or flawed in the making

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Other Words from spoil


spoilable \ ˈspȯi-​lə-​bəl How to pronounce spoilable (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for spoil

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for spoil


decay, decompose, rot, putrefy, spoil mean to undergo destructive dissolution. decay implies a slow change from a state of soundness or perfection. a decaying mansion decompose stresses a breaking down by chemical change and when applied to organic matter a corruption. the strong odor of decomposing vegetation rot is a close synonym of decompose and often connotes foulness. fruit was left to rot in warehouses putrefy implies the rotting of animal matter and offensiveness to sight and smell. corpses putrefying on the battlefield spoil applies chiefly to the decomposition of foods. keep the ham from spoiling

indulge, pamper, humor, spoil, baby, mollycoddle mean to show undue favor to a person's desires and feelings. indulge implies excessive compliance and weakness in gratifying another's or one's own desires. indulged myself with food at the slightest excuse pamper implies inordinate gratification of desire for luxury and comfort with consequent enervating effect. pampered by the amenities of modern living humor stresses a yielding to a person's moods or whims. humored him by letting him tell the story spoil stresses the injurious effects on character by indulging or pampering. foolish parents spoil their children baby suggests excessive care, attention, or solicitude. babying students by grading too easily mollycoddle suggests an excessive degree of care and attention to another's health or welfare. refused to mollycoddle her malingering son


spoil, plunder, booty, prize, loot mean something taken from another by force or craft. spoil, more commonly spoils, applies to what belongs by right or custom to the victor in war or political contest. the spoils of political victory plunder applies to what is taken not only in war but in robbery, banditry, grafting, or swindling. a bootlegger's plunder booty implies plunder to be shared among confederates. thieves dividing up their booty prize applies to spoils captured on the high seas or territorial waters of the enemy. the wartime right of seizing prizes at sea loot applies especially to what is taken from victims of a catastrophe. picked through the ruins for loot

Examples of spoil in a Sentence

Verb The fight spoiled the party. The camping trip was spoiled by bad weather. Don't let one mistake spoil your day. Don't spoil your appetite by snacking too much. Exposure to air will spoil the wine. I spoiled the sauce by adding too much garlic. The milk was beginning to spoil. The hotel spoils their guests with fine dining and excellent service. She always spoils me on my birthday. You should spoil yourself with a day at the spa. Noun the bandits escaped with their lives but not with the spoils
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The host nation had enjoyed a smoother passage to the final and was tipped to win, only for Eder's long-range, extra-time strike to spoil France's party in Paris' Stade de France and grant Portugal its greatest moment in international football. George Ramsay, CNN, "How Portugal lost Cristiano Ronaldo and learned to 'suffer' before winning Euro 2016," 10 July 2020 Lazarus also always made time to coach his sons’ baseball teams and, in later years, spoil his dozen grandchildren. Sharon Grigsby, Dallas News, "Faceless coronavirus death tally obscures rich life stories like that of Dallas ‘Pastor Laz’," 26 June 2020 If Grandpa is a tea drinker, spoil him with this collection of fresh teas sourced directly from the premier tea gardens in India. Christina Vercelletto, CNN Underscored, "Gifts for Grandpa that will make him smile on Father’s Day," 13 June 2020 And there’s a good reason for that: in the fridge, an open block of panela (or paneer) will start to spoil after two to three days. Paul Stephen, ExpressNews.com, "Cooking with Paul: Your guide to storing and freezing cheese," 6 June 2020 People gather to admire great engineering and design, and politics could spoil a family-friendly event that’s become one of the hallmarks of summer in Michigan. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "Cruising Woodward? Bring your love of cars and a mask; leave the politics," 4 June 2020 The answer is that tourism will be back—but not in exactly the same form, and only if NIMBYS and governments don’t spoil the fun. The Economist, "The summer holiday will be back How tourism will survive the pandemic," 30 May 2020 There may not be a better matchup in all of football than Martin vs. Cox, and we are truly spoiled to get to witness it two times a year. John Owning, Dallas News, "Film room: The top individual matchups on the Cowboys’ 2020 schedule, including one of the best in all of football," 27 May 2020 Tom Burke UW fans have been spoiled in recent seasons because of talent the defense has fielded, particularly at linebacker. Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The list of the top 10 Wisconsin Badgers football players since 1995 starts with Ron Dayne. And then ...?," 25 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Alone on a spoil island deep in the Florida Everglades Kimmel had come looking for the invasive python. Kimberly Miller, USA TODAY, "Python hunter alone in Florida Everglades suffers bloody bite, brings home 17-foot snake," 19 June 2020 For those of you who are yet to finish Netflix's Sweet Magnolias, be aware of the spoil alert within. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "Here's How Author Sherryl Woods Reacted to the Dramatic Sweet Magnolias Season 1 Finale on Netflix," 16 June 2020 However, with the 20 Premier League clubs sharing the spoils of the current multi-billion dollar TV rights deal, many questioned why the players -- who earn on average £3 million ($3.7 million) per year -- weren't helping foot the bill. Richard Quest, CNN, "English Premier League players 'thrown under a PR bus' by clubs, says Gary Lineker," 3 Apr. 2020 Taiwan was taken as a spoil of war by Japan in 1895. Doug Bandow, National Review, "The U.S. Should Offer Taiwan a Free-Trade Agreement," 23 Mar. 2020 To the victor went the spoils, including the World Professional Football Championship Trophy, a bauble featuring a regulation-size football in a kicking position set on a pyramid-like stand with three concave sides, all done up in sterling silver. SI.com, "A History of Football in 100 Objects," 28 Aug. 2019 Songwriters know that intimacy, ecstasy, and connection are the spoils of transcending the impulses of disgust and fear—impulses that are now at a healthy high. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Pop Music’s Version of Life Doesn’t Exist Anymore," 19 Mar. 2020 The spoils of Tuesday night's 2020 Democratic first-in-the-nation primary were instead enjoyed by Bernie Sanders, 78, Pete Buttigieg, 38, and Amy Klobuchar, 59, with 27.1%, 23.6%, and 19.7% support, respectively. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "'Not this time, not this place': Biden licks his wounds after New Hampshire loss," 11 Feb. 2020 Although there were, admittedly, many (M-A-N-Y!) a hand sanitizer sold, the most wanted spoils were not all disinfectant-themed. Elizabeth Buxton, refinery29.com, "The 29 Items That Helped Us Make It Through March," 31 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spoil.' 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 spoil


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 3b


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for spoil


Middle English, from Anglo-French espuiller, espoiller, from Latin spoliare to strip of natural covering, despoil, from spolium skin, hide — more at spill entry 1


Middle English spoile, from Anglo-French espuille, from espuiller

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Time Traveler for spoil

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for spoil

Last Updated

21 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spoil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spoil. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for spoil



English Language Learners Definition of spoil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to have a bad effect on (something) : to damage or ruin (something)
: to decay or lose freshness especially because of being kept too long
disapproving : to give (someone, such as a child) everything that he or she wants : to have a bad effect on (someone) by allowing too many things or by not correcting bad behavior


How to pronounce spoil (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of spoil (Entry 2 of 2)

: something stolen or taken by thieves, soldiers, etc.
: something valuable or desirable that someone gets by working or trying hard


\ ˈspȯil How to pronounce spoil (audio) \
spoiled\ ˈspȯild \ or spoilt\ ˈspȯilt \; spoiling

Kids Definition of spoil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to damage the character of by allowing too many things or not correcting bad behavior Grandparents sometimes spoil a child.
2 : to damage badly : ruin Frost spoiled the crop.
3 : to damage the quality or effect of A quarrel spoiled the celebration.
4 : to decay or lose freshness, value, or usefulness by being kept too long The milk spoiled.



Kids Definition of spoil (Entry 2 of 2)

: stolen goods : plunder

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More from Merriam-Webster on spoil

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spoil

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spoil

Spanish Central: Translation of spoil

Nglish: Translation of spoil for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spoil for Arabic Speakers

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