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

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



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

Other Words from spoil


spoilable \ ˈspȯi-​lə-​bəl How to pronounce spoil (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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Don't be afraid to use your own judgment to critique any tales that come your way, even if doing so may spoil the fun. Chicago Tribune, 31 July 2022 Jack Johnson knocks out Jim Jeffries in the 15th round at Reno, Nev., to retain the world heavyweight title and spoil Jeffries’ comeback. Los Angeles Times, 4 July 2022 To think too deeply about the crime would spoil the fun. Charles Mcnultytheater Critic, Los Angeles Times, 5 July 2022 Curtis’s view of the Foley stage is blocked by a vast computer monitor, an intentional obstruction: seeing how a sound is created would spoil his ability to evaluate its accuracy and effectiveness. Anna Wiener, The New Yorker, 27 June 2022 An accident involving the Safer would spoil fisheries that large populations in the region depend on for food and send toxic fumes into the air, potentially sickening thousands of people. Christopher Reddy, CNN, 22 Mar. 2022 Rather than spoil the scene, this engineering spectacle adds a dramatic modern dimension to a landscape otherwise frozen in time. Barry Neild, CNN, 23 June 2022 Chefs aren’t just good cooks—they’re people who can command a room, run a business, and then spoil someone with the proceeds. Zan Romanoff, Bon Appétit, 21 June 2022 Estefan stars alongside Andy Garcia as the parents of the bride (Adria Arjona) parents, who decide not to announce their divorce so as not to spoil the wedding. Kathleen Walsh, Glamour, 16 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Please, nobody spoil Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness star Elizabeth Olsen on … Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Brendan Morrow, The Week, 30 June 2022 Can Trae Young spoil that plan and pull a game back for the ATL? oregonlive, 22 Apr. 2022 Not only are algae and zooplankton affected, but now apex predators such as killer whales are moving into areas once locked away by ice — gaining unfettered access to a spoil of riches. Susanne Rust, Anchorage Daily News, 26 Dec. 2021 An Oakland couple’s anniverary trip to Europe shows how COVID still has the power to upend plans and spoil vacations. Rita Beamish, San Francisco Chronicle, 1 June 2022 Over the years the enormous, elaborate wooden altarpiece had been hastily disassembled and transported to safety, claimed as a spoil of war, tossed aside and left to rot. Joshua Hammer, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 May 2022 Not only are algae and zooplankton affected, but now apex predators such as killer whales are moving into areas once locked away by ice — gaining unfettered access to a spoil of riches. Susanne Rust, Anchorage Daily News, 26 Dec. 2021 Clouds and rain spoil today’s mild air, while tomorrow is foul as the rain persists and cold air comes barreling in. Washington Post, 3 Feb. 2022 Håkan Svedhem, co-author and former project scientist for the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, said the team must now discover what type of water is in the spoil. Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY, 21 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Spoil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spoil. Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for spoil


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on spoil

Nglish: Translation of spoil for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spoil for Arabic Speakers


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