\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

Synonyms for spoil

Synonyms: Noun

booty, loot, pillage, plunder, swag

Synonyms: Verb

blemish, darken, mar, poison, stain, taint, tarnish, touch, vitiate

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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

The nice thing about losing campaigns is everybody stays friends because there’s no spoils to divide. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Eyeing a 2020 run, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti explains how he (or someone else) could beat Trump," 17 Oct. 2018 The jazz wars subsided largely because both sides realized insufficient spoils. Larry Blumenfeld, WSJ, "‘Playing Changes’ Review: No Longer Wrestling With Ghosts," 16 Aug. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Tigers toppled the Volunteers 9-3 on Friday and 13-5 on Saturday but Tennessee threatened to spoil the sweep as the Vols took a 7-3 lead into the ninth inning Sunday. Andrew Lopez, NOLA.com, "Breaking down LSU's wild ninth-inning comeback vs. Tennessee," 16 Apr. 2018 Comcast, by the way, is looking to spoil Disney’s deal by considering purchasing a key Fox investment, the European pay TV operator Sky. Edmund Lee, Recode, "Shari Redstone is facing off against Les Moonves in a battle to run CBS-Viacom," 11 Apr. 2018 The Cubs would hit three homers in an 8-4 victory to spoil the maiden game of new Marlins ownership under Jeter and Bruce Sherman. Craig Davis, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Marlins, Urena roughed up early in Opening Day loss to Cubs," 29 Mar. 2018 On the side, there’s a hidden drawer to stash food, toys, and treats—as if a sustainable doggie palace didn’t spoil the pup enough. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Next-level sustainable dog house puts all other dog houses to shame," 10 Sep. 2018 And between Amazon Prime Day and the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (which lasts through August 6, BTW), we've been spoiled with our share of summer hair and makeup deals — and things are just getting started. Karina Hoshikawa, Teen Vogue, "Tarte Announces 25% Off Friends and Family Online Sale," 30 July 2018 Between these and our makeup and hair picks, we'll all be spoiled for choice all season long. refinery29.com, "The New Skin-Care Products You Should Be Buying At Sephora This Summer," 19 June 2018 In between the ebullient conversations, attendees were spoiled with generous entrees of chicken wings, briskets, macaroni and cheese and alcohol. Carl Lamarre, Billboard, "Kanye West Throws Star-Studded Album Listening Party For 'Ye' In Wyoming," 1 June 2018 Yvette Marie Silen Gallo admits that Peluche, her 8-year-old white Pomeranian, is spoiled. Kyle Arnold, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Orlando pet-supply stores fetch big business," 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

18 Nov 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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More from Merriam-Webster on spoil

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spoil

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spoil

Spanish Central: Translation of spoil

Nglish: Translation of spoil for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spoil for Arabic Speakers

Comments on spoil

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living or existing for a long time

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