despoil

as in to plunder
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 & Similar Words

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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

Thesaurus Entries Near despoil

Cite this Entry

“Despoil.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/despoil. Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

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