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 As a treat, starting Monday, April 20 to Sunday, April 26, 2020, HGTV will be spoiling us with daily marathons from 6 am ET/PT to 8 pm ET/PT, when regular scheduled programming will resume. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "HGTV's "Fan Favorite Fridays" Lets You Vote On Which Shows You Want to Watch," 17 Apr. 2020 Toby tells Pavel about the swans, about spoiling them with gourmet croutons. Han Ong, The New Yorker, "Futures," 23 Mar. 2020 Hollywood spoils us with vivid special effects in big-budget space movies. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "The Power of the ‘Pale Blue Dot’ Three Decades Later," 14 Feb. 2020 MARCO BALDELLI Earns infinite goodwill and a manager of the year award by leading the Twins to 101 victories, then spoils it all by starting an Uber driver in a must-win playoff game in the Bronx. 23. Kevin Cusick, Twin Cities, "Loop Newsmakers of the Year: Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman," 29 Dec. 2019 Without spoiling any specifics, Carrell is a prominent presence throughout The Morning Show, and Kessler’s desperate attempts to claw his way back into the limelight are a major part of the season. Emma Dibdin, Town & Country, "Is The Morning Show Actually Based on Matt Lauer?," 8 Nov. 2019 See it now, that seemed to say, or have someone else spoil it for you. J.b., The Economist, "Why spoilers are ruining storytelling," 7 June 2019 Earlier this week, assets from the upcoming game were circulated online, spoiling major plot points. Patrick Shanley, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Last of Us Part II' Leak Did Not Come From Naughty Dog Studio, Sony Says," 1 May 2020 Grad nights, proms, spring sports and activities, and graduations have been canceled across the country, spoiling the end of high school careers along the way. oregonlive, "University of Oregon extends acceptance deadline to Sept. 1, giving prospective students extra time to plan amid coronavirus crisis," 29 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Taiwan was taken as a spoil of war by Japan in 1895. Doug Bandow, National Review, "The U.S. Should Offer Taiwan a Free-Trade Agreement," 23 Mar. 2020 To the victor went the spoils, including the World Professional Football Championship Trophy, a bauble featuring a regulation-size football in a kicking position set on a pyramid-like stand with three concave sides, all done up in sterling silver. SI.com, "A History of Football in 100 Objects," 28 Aug. 2019 Songwriters know that intimacy, ecstasy, and connection are the spoils of transcending the impulses of disgust and fear—impulses that are now at a healthy high. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Pop Music’s Version of Life Doesn’t Exist Anymore," 19 Mar. 2020 The spoils of Tuesday night's 2020 Democratic first-in-the-nation primary were instead enjoyed by Bernie Sanders, 78, Pete Buttigieg, 38, and Amy Klobuchar, 59, with 27.1%, 23.6%, and 19.7% support, respectively. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "'Not this time, not this place': Biden licks his wounds after New Hampshire loss," 11 Feb. 2020 Although there were, admittedly, many (M-A-N-Y!) a hand sanitizer sold, the most wanted spoils were not all disinfectant-themed. Elizabeth Buxton, refinery29.com, "The 29 Items That Helped Us Make It Through March," 31 Mar. 2020 In one cache of war spoils, the women discover a beat-up biography of Bill Clinton, which Sangare reads to the others. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "In Milwaukee Repertory Theater's 'Eclipsed,' women try to survive Liberian civil war," 7 Mar. 2020 Yet the country’s belated pangs of conscience have not induced any inclination to reapportion the spoils. Andrew J. Bacevich, Harper's magazine, "The Old Normal," 2 Mar. 2020 That's going to result in hundreds of thousands (and likely millions) of dollars in losses to residents (as food spoils) and businesses. Chris Morris, Fortune, "PG&E’s California Power Shutdown Brings Darkness to San Francisco, Wine Country and Silicon Valley," 9 Oct. 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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Time Traveler for spoil

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for spoil

Last Updated

20 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spoil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spoil. Accessed 24 May. 2020.

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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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