spoil

1 of 2

verb

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

transitive verb

1
a
: to damage seriously : ruin
b
: to impair the quality or effect of
a quarrel spoiled the celebration
2
a
: to impair the disposition or character of by overindulgence or excessive praise
b
: to pamper excessively : coddle
3
a
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
spoilable adjective

spoil

2 of 2

noun

1
a
: 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
2
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
Choose the Right Synonym for spoil

Verb

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

Noun

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Dodge won't spoil the surprise by confirming if the last one will be based on the Charger or the Challenger (or maybe both), but the evidence suggests the latter is more likely. Jack Fitzgerald, Car and Driver, 13 Feb. 2023 Farmers’ broiler chickens suffocate, and dairy products spoil. Monica Mark, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 Feb. 2023 If it is not held at a safe temperature, the food may spoil or become contaminated with bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. Abay Yimere, The Conversation, 19 Jan. 2023 And some new variant evolving from the Chinese outbreak could spoil 2023 for everyone else. David Axe, Rolling Stone, 8 Jan. 2023 However, Cleveland can still spoil a potential playoff run for Washington. cleveland, 17 Dec. 2022 So, who exactly could spoil the Astros' pursuit of a third Commissioner's Trophy? Michael Shapiro, Chron, 12 Dec. 2022 Not to spoil all the movie magic, but to capture what was needed for M3GAN’s performance, the filmmakers relied on a real robotic prototype in some scenes while others featured a young actress, Amie Donald, in a mask and gloves. Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Dec. 2022 As for where things go after that kiss, Kasdan won't spoil anything, except to promise more is coming in ways that are impossible to miss. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 1 Dec. 2022
Noun
On a tour of Brown’s apartment, the spoils of his access were everywhere. Ben Sisario, New York Times, 1 Apr. 2024 The spoils of brilliance often include a certain license to bad behavior. Kara Panzer, Fortune, 1 Apr. 2024 Companies that transform—and keep transforming, by putting their resources against opportunities and threats—are most likely to join leaders capturing the spoils in a winner-takes-most world. Mohamed Kande and Lang Davidson Of Pwc, Quartz, 8 Mar. 2024 Not to mention the business with foreskins, demanded by God like genital loot, the spoils of victory, so many scalps. James Wood, The New Yorker, 4 Mar. 2024 But by Monday, two full recruiting cycles later, the spoils of several early recruiting wins for Riley had lost much of their luster. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, 19 Dec. 2023 Usher is enjoying the spoils of headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show, which include bounding up the Billboard charts. Hugh McIntyre, Forbes, 22 Feb. 2024 The true-crime tale of a genius art thief who kept all the spoils for himself. The California Independent Booksellers Alliance, Los Angeles Times, 28 Feb. 2024 Onto a stage set up for the NFL rally, Kansas City’s modern gridiron warriors hoisted the spoils of their latest, historic battle: the sterling silver Vince Lombardi Trophy, now glinting in the sun. Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN, 15 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'spoil.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

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

Noun

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

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near spoil

Cite this Entry

“Spoil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spoil. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

spoil

1 of 2 noun
: stolen goods : plunder

spoil

2 of 2 verb
spoiled ˈspȯi(ə)ld How to pronounce spoil (audio)
ˈspȯi(ə)lt
also spoilt ˈspȯi(ə)lt How to pronounce spoil (audio) ; spoiling
1
2
a
: to damage badly : ruin
spoiled my new sweater
b
: to damage the quality or effect of
a quarrel spoiled the party
c
: to decay or lose freshness, value, or usefulness by being kept too long
the milk spoiled
3
: to damage the disposition of by letting get away with too much
spoil a child
4
: to have an eager desire
spoiling for a fight

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