spo·​li·​a·​tion | \ ˌspō-lē-ˈā-shən How to pronounce spoliation (audio) \

Definition of spoliation

1a : the act of plundering
b : the state of having been plundered especially in war
2 : the act of injuring especially beyond reclaim

Examples of spoliation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The judge also has allowed claims to proceed of retaliation, conspiracy of retaliation and spoliation of evidence against the city, former and current city and police officials. Jennifer Edwards Baker, The Enquirer, "'He won': Cincinnati to pay police captain $70K to end federal lawsuit," 18 Sep. 2020 Once that point is reached, countries reforest, another sign that economic advance does not have to mean environmental spoliation. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Another Glimpse of State Terror in Trump’s America," 8 June 2018 Parties that engage in such spoliation are more vulnerable to losing accompanying lawsuits. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Could Bryan Colangelo Still Face Legal Consequences After Parting Ways With 76ers?," 7 June 2018 The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is hiring a new provenance and spoliation curator to help train other staff in provenance research. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Persistent Crime of Nazi-Looted Art," 11 Mar. 2018 This sweeping history of the decades after the Civil War decries the spoliations White sees everywhere among robber barons and corrupt politicians. New York Times, "11 New Books We Recommend This Week," 28 Sep. 2017 Failure to follow these protocols could result in criminal or civil penalties, and could form the basis of legal claims, legal presumptions, or jury instructions relating to spoliation of evidence. Washington Post Staff, Washington Post, "Full text: Trump transition team memo on keeping documents on Russia and the election," 16 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spoliation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of spoliation

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for spoliation

Middle English, from Anglo-French spoliacion, Latin spoliation-, spoliatio, from spoliare to plunder — more at spoil entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spoliation

Time Traveler for spoliation

Time Traveler

The first known use of spoliation was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for spoliation

Last Updated

24 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spoliation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spoliation. Accessed 26 Sep. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for spoliation


spo·​li·​a·​tion | \ ˌspō-lē-ˈā-shən How to pronounce spoliation (audio) \

Legal Definition of spoliation

1 : the destruction, alteration, or mutilation of evidence especially by a party for whom the evidence is damaging
2 : alteration or mutilation of an instrument (as a will) by one who is not a party to the instrument

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on spoliation

What made you want to look up spoliation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!