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 Sherry Atkinson, who manages a hotel on North Carolina's Outer Banks, said the hurricane wasn't spoiling holiday vacations for guests. Author: Ramón Espinosa, Anchorage Daily News, "Dorian closes in on Bahamas as dangerous Category 5 storm," 1 Sep. 2019 In the eighth month, Alabama is 8-0, Florida 8-0 after its victory over Miami (Fla.) last week, LSU 5-0, Ole Miss 8-0 and Tennessee 8-0-1 (with a 31-31 tie against Colorado in the 1990 Pigskin Classic spoiling the Volunteers' perfect record). Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, "SEC Football by the Numbers: Top 10 for Week 1," 31 Aug. 2019 My parents co-opted my brother’s ownership, adopting this cat as their own, and spoiled their cat as the Arabs historically had. Marlo Safi, National Review, "The American Art of Obsessing over Your Pets," 24 Aug. 2019 Sorry to be a buzzkill, but skiers and snowboarders who were spoiled last winter and spring with bountiful snow probably won’t be as fortunate this season. John Meyer, The Know, "Sorry, skiers, but we’re probably not going to have another epic snow year," 12 Sep. 2019 Bags used for wrapping plant material that could spoil, bags used by restaurants for takeout and delivery, and bags used by small non-franchise businesses with fewer than 25 employees would be exempt, according to the agenda. Mary Grace Keller, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Commissioners consider paying telecommuters to move to Carroll County, set to discuss legislative ideas with delegation next week," 23 Aug. 2019 The only thing the loss didn’t spoil was a special day for catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who made his first Major League start since 2017. Bobby Nightengale, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati Reds collapse in 6th inning, cough up 7-run lead in loss to St. Louis Cardinals," 19 July 2019 Asian states are likelier to sign up to FOIP if they are persuaded that America is not spoiling for a fight. The Economist, "Asian countries fear China but many won’t side with America," 6 June 2019 Baby Elizabeth is spoiled and loved by the whole Monkeewrench gang when Grace brings her to work. Mary Ann Grossmann, Twin Cities, "3 new fall books: Moving to Minnesota, a moving Muslim story and Monkeewrench," 8 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Under Iraq’s political system, power is split among parties based on sect, and economic spoils are divided accordingly. Washington Post, "An uprising in Iraq is the broadest in decades. It’s posing an alarming threat to Baghdad and Tehran.," 7 Nov. 2019 So Syrian property is not enemy property that might be taken, even for military purposes, as spoils of war,’’ said Sarah H. Cleveland, a professor of human and constitutional rights at Columbia Law School. BostonGlobe.com, "Trump’s desire for Syrian oil fraught with legal problems," 29 Oct. 2019 Memeification doesn’t necessarily return any spoils to the thing memed. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Video Games Are Better Without Game-Play," 22 Oct. 2019 The National Coal Board has been blamed for the event—the spoil tip was built atop a foundation that included streams and springs, which had contributed to previous, smaller slides down the hill. The Editors, Marie Claire, "'The Crown' Tackles the Aberfan Disaster," 18 Oct. 2019 Businesses lose business, food spoils in warming fridges, and critical infrastructure goes offline. Wired, "Power Shutoffs Can’t Save California From Wildfire Hell," 8 Oct. 2019 Mariano’s parent company Kroger is rolling out a new avocado for sale with a spoil-resistant skin designed to prolong the life of the favorite fruit of lifelong renters everywhere. Chicago Tribune Staff, chicagotribune.com, "tl;dr: longer-lasting avocados, flying with marijuana is complicated and global warming is ruining #basic fall fun," 19 Sep. 2019 The sizzle reel, filmed at Peggy's multimillion-dollar Fort Lauderdale mansion, showcased the spoils of an accomplished life. Alex Prewitt, SI.com, "She Won Athletes' Hearts. And Robbed Them Blind," 19 Sep. 2019 The Sopranos continually punished its characters—and its viewers—for fetishizing the spoils of criminality, bludgeoning us with their moral and psychological costs. Adam Wilson, Harper's magazine, "Good Bad Bad Good," 16 Sep. 2019

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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Statistics for spoil

Last Updated

5 Nov 2019

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)

: 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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