\ˈspȯi(-ə)l \

Definition of spoil 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : plunder taken from an enemy in war or from a victim in robbery : loot

b : public offices made the property of a successful party usually used in plural

c : something valuable or desirable gained through special effort or opportunism or in return for a favor usually used in plural

2a : spoliation, plundering

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


spoiled\ˈspȯi(-ə)ld, ˈspȯi(-ə)lt \ or chiefly British spoilt\ˈspȯi(-ə)lt \; spoiling

Definition of spoil (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a archaic : despoil, strip

b : pillage, rob

2 archaic : to seize by force

3a : to damage seriously : ruin

b : to impair the quality or effect of a quarrel spoiled the celebration

4a : to impair the disposition or character of by overindulgence or excessive praise

b : to pamper excessively : coddle

intransitive verb

1 : to practice plunder and robbery

2 : to lose valuable or useful qualities usually as a result of decay the fruit spoiled

3 : to have an eager desire spoiling for a fight

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Other Words from spoil


spoilable \ˈspȯi-lə-bəl \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for spoil


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


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

Examples of spoil in a Sentence


the bandits escaped with their lives but not with the spoils


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Politicians across party lines treat a bloated public sector as the spoils of office. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, "I Think I’m Going to Kathmandu, Say the Chinese," 28 June 2018 Dozens of people that Donaldson and others recruited as part of the scheme then tried to cash the checks, netting at least $83,000 in spoils, prosecutors say. Cory Shaffer, cleveland.com, "Shred EVERYTHING: Prosecutors in Cleveland warn after uncovering of sophisticated check counterfeiting ring," 2 Mar. 2018 While the kids chant on and GOOD's adversaries collect themselves, Pusha T appears ready to focus on Daytona and all its spoils. Chris Payne, Billboard, "Pusha T Performs 'Daytona' for First Time, Governors Ball Crowd Chants 'F--- Drake'," 2 June 2018 Over time, many digital markets tend to become more concentrated, as size begets size and winners take most of the spoils. The Economist, "America’s tech giants vie with China’s in third countries," 5 July 2018 Lessons from the Arab Spring Iraqi politics is often construed as the politics of elites who strike deals among themselves to divide the spoils of power. Benedict Robin, Washington Post, "Why everyone failed to predict the leftist-Islamist alliance that won Iraq’s 2018 elections," 7 June 2018 Old rivals Chelsea and Manchester United go to war once again with the FA Cup the spoils for the winner. SI.com, "Chelsea vs Manchester United FA Cup Final Preview: Recent Form, Team News, Prediction & More," 18 May 2018 But as the war’s victors divided the spoils, Roosevelt capitulated to Stalin on the pressing issue of Poland. Jay Winik, WSJ, "Summitry Can Be Risky Business," 3 May 2018 Sky independent shareholders have become big beneficiaries of the Disney-Comcast battle over Fox assets, thanks to their right to an equal share of spoils protected by the U.K.’s famously shareholder-friendly regime. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, "Why a U.K. Regulator May Set the Price for Fox," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

If the power is out, first eat foods that will spoil quickly, such as those in the refrigerator and freezer. Gary Robbins, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Safety tips to follow before, during and after an earthquake," 8 July 2018 Ontiveros pitched a complete game (six innings) and threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings before D.J. Williams’ two-run double in the sixth spoiled his shutout bid. Ted Dunnam, Houston Chronicle, "Little League baseball: Pearland East wins District 15 title," 29 June 2018 There are certain obvious summer destinations that are perpetually spoiled by warm weather and sunshine. Todd Plummer, Vogue, "A Perfect Weekend Away in Dublin," 11 July 2018 Now the Coppolas say their peaceful community is about to be spoiled by Lasell College’s plan to install a quartet of 70-ft. Sophia Eppolito, BostonGlobe.com, "A large lighting problem in a Newton neighborhood," 7 July 2018 Stetson is literally one of those refreshing rags-to-riches stories — a true team filled with unselfish coaches and chip-on-their-shoulder players who haven’t been spoiled by the opulence and grandeur of big-time intercollegiate sports. Mike Bianchi, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Stetson Hatters are kicking grass, taking names and chasing dangling carrot of Omaha," 6 June 2018 First claimed by colonizers from indigenous people, the river has been tamed and spoiled by Western industrial civilization — and now, hopefully, modernity can return the River to some of its original splendor. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "The Death and Birth of the Los Angeles River," 21 May 2018 The Warriors had their record-breaking 2016 season spoiled in epic fashion by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Ben Cohen, WSJ, "The Stephen Curry Show Is Still the Most Exciting Thing in Sports," 21 May 2018 Almost every time Torey Lovullo has been asked about Paul Goldschmidt’s struggles at the plate this season, the Diamondbacks manager makes it a point to remind everyone that the team has long been spoiled by the first baseman’s greatness. Bob Mcmanaman, azcentral, "What Diamondbacks are lacking on offense, they're making up for it on defense," 14 May 2018

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 sense 1a


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

History and Etymology for spoil


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


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

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Statistics for spoil

Last Updated

21 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spoil

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

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More Definitions for spoil



English Language Learners Definition of spoil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something stolen or taken by thieves, soldiers, etc.

: something valuable or desirable that someone gets by working or trying hard



English Language Learners Definition of spoil (Entry 2 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

: 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


\ˈspȯil \
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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Comments on spoil

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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