Thesaurus

despoil

verb

Synonyms of despoil

to search through with the intent of committing robbery
  • the burglars despoiled the art museum in search of treasures they thought they could sell to a fence

Synonyms for despoil

Words Related to despoil

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About despoil

How does the verb despoil contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of despoil are devastate, pillage, ravage, sack, and waste. While all these words mean "to lay waste by plundering or destroying," despoil applies to looting or robbing without suggesting accompanying destruction.

the Nazis despoiled the art museums

In what contexts can devastate take the place of despoil?

The words devastate and despoil can be used in similar contexts, but devastate implies the complete ruin and desolation of a wide area.

an earthquake devastated the city

How are the words pillage and sack related as synonyms of despoil?

Pillage implies ruthless plundering at will but without the completeness suggested by sack.

settlements pillaged by Vikings

When can ravage be used instead of despoil?

The meanings of ravage and despoil largely overlap; however, ravage implies violent often cumulative depredation and destruction.

a hurricane ravaged the coast

When is it sensible to use sack instead of despoil?

The words sack and despoil are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, sack implies carrying off all valuable possessions from a place.

barbarians sacked ancient Rome

When could waste be used to replace despoil?

Although the words waste and despoil have much in common, waste may imply producing the same result by a slow process rather than sudden and violent action.

years of drought had wasted the area

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about despoil

Time Traveler for despoil

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Cite this Entry

“Despoil.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/despoil. Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

More from Merriam-Webster on despoil

Dictionary: Definition of despoil

Nglish: Translation of despoil for Spanish Speakers

Comments on despoil

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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