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

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
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 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 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 How to pronounce spoilable (audio) \ 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 decline of the militant group has given rise to another evil: human trafficking networks that thrive on the spoils of war, the displaced and the desperate. Arwa Damon, CNN, "They escaped ISIS. Then they got sucked into Baghdad's sex trafficking underworld," 3 July 2019 Britain had secured the heart of Hong Kong in perpetuity as spoils of the 19th-century Opium Wars but the final part, the New Territories, was acquired on a 99-year lease in 1898. A.k., The Economist, "What is China’s “one country, two systems” policy?," 30 June 2019 But what most people don’t realize is that the same thing happens every time the Cape buffalo takes a poo—only it’s beetles battling over the spoils. Jason Bittel, National Geographic, "Dung beetles have a surprisingly sophisticated way of navigating the world," 24 June 2019 Of the squad manager Jill Ellis has selected, 12 players heading to France were part of the team that enjoyed the spoils of victory the last time around. SI.com, "Meet the 23," 4 June 2019 The spoils of the expedition generated new questions. Quanta Magazine, "A Quasicrystal’s Shocking Origin," 8 July 2016 However, while some of the underlying assets are interest bearing instruments, the spoils won’t go to the Libra holders among the general public. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "Facebook’s Libra isn’t the next bitcoin, but you can make money off it anyway," 25 June 2019 Hyenas are excellent hunters whose spoils are more likely to be stolen by lions than the other way around. Christine Dell'amore, National Geographic, "Hyenas have a bad rap—but they’re Africa’s most successful predator," 14 June 2019 This was a new, and altogether enlightened, view of the spoils of victory. David Von Drehle, Twin Cities, "David Von Drehle: Everyone acts like America is in decline. Let’s look at the numbers.," 6 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Greek-Turkish tensions are rising again and nationalists on both sides are spoiling for confrontation. The Economist, "Family trouble," 4 July 2019 June 27, 201904:56 Trump spoiling for a deal as leaders gather in Japan While all eyes were on the debates in Miami, President Trump was heading to Japan for the Group of 20 summit. Petra Cahill, NBC News, "The first Democratic debate, Trump heads to the G-20 & total eclipse fever: The Morning Rundown," 27 June 2019 Video review was used to confirm a foul on Rose Lavelle that gave the pink-haired captain the game-winner in the 75th minute, spoiling Spain's spirited effort in its first knockout-round appearance at a World Cup. Anne M. Peterson, Houston Chronicle, "U.S. escapes with narrow win over Spain to advance to World Cup quarterfinals," 25 June 2019 Video review was used to confirm a foul on Rose Lavelle that gave the pink-haired captain the game-winner in the 75th minute, spoiling Spain’s spirited effort in its first knockout-round appearance at a World Cup. Anne M. Peterson, The Denver Post, "Megan Rapinoe’s goals lift USWNT over Spain to advance in FIFA Women’s World Cup," 24 June 2019 And of course, great weather days can fall in the middle of the week, which can sometimes spoil your perception of the season. Dave Epstein, BostonGlobe.com, "Summer is nearly here, which means the days are going to get shorter," 19 June 2019 Because açaí berries can spoil within a day, the best ways to buy them are frozen (like smoothie packs) or in powdered form. Tehrene Firman, Good Housekeeping, "10 Things You Should Know About Açaí Berries, Nature's "Purple Gold"," 23 July 2018 But milk can spoil pretty quickly, so don’t leave the milk sitting in the car, especially in the hot summer months. Korin Miller, SELF, "What to Know if You, Like Chrissy Teigen, Want to Pump on the Go," 19 June 2018 The product will be forever linked with the events of Feb. 5 -- when many investors learned that a seemingly free lunch can spoil quickly, and ruin some other people’s parties too. Luke Kawa, Bloomberg.com, "How Two Tiny Vol Products Helped Fuel Sudden Stock Slump," 7 Feb. 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

15 Jul 2019

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
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


\ 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

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

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