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See also: spoił



From Middle English spoilen, spuylen, borrowed from Old French espoillier, espollier, espuler, from Latin spoliāre, present active infinitive of spoliō (pillage, ruin, spoil).


  • enPR: spoil, IPA(key): /spɔɪl/
  • (file)


spoil (third-person singular simple present spoils, present participle spoiling, simple past and past participle spoiled or spoilt)

  1. (transitive, archaic) To strip (someone who has been killed or defeated) of their arms or armour. [from 14th c.]
  2. (transitive, archaic) To strip or deprive (someone) of their possessions; to rob, despoil. [from 14th c.]
  3. (transitive, intransitive, archaic) To plunder, pillage (a city, country etc.). [from 14th c.]
    • 1596 (date written; published 1633), Edmund Spenser, A Vewe of the Present State of Irelande [], Dublin: [] Societie of Stationers, [], →OCLC; republished as A View of the State of Ireland [] (Ancient Irish Histories), Dublin: [] Society of Stationers, [] Hibernia Press, [] [b]y John Morrison, 1809, →OCLC:
      Outlaws, which, lurking in woods, used to break forth to rob and spoil.
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To carry off (goods) by force; to steal. [14th–19th c.]
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Mark 3:27:
      No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man.
    • 1677, Hannah Woolley, The Compleat Servant-Maid[1], London: T. Passinger, page 35:
      They must likewise endeavour to be careful in looking after the rest of the Servants, that every one perform their duty in their several places, that they keep good hours in their up-rising and lying down, and that no Goods be either spoiled or embezelled.
    • 1814 July, [Jane Austen], chapter XXXVIII, in Mansfield Park: [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to III), London: [] T[homas] Egerton, [], →OCLC:
      [] it was her own knife; little sister Mary had left it to her upon her deathbed, and she ought to have had it to keep herself long ago. But mama kept it from her, and was always letting Betsey get hold of it; and the end of it would be that Betsey would spoil it, and get it for her own, though mama had promised her that Betsey should not have it in her own hands.
  5. (transitive) To ruin; to damage (something) in some way making it unfit for use. [from 16th c.]
    • 1651, Jer[emy] Taylor, The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living. [], 2nd edition, London: [] Francis Ashe [], →OCLC:
      Spiritual pride [] spoils so many graces.
    • 1909, Archibald Marshall [pseudonym; Arthur Hammond Marshall], chapter II, in The Squire’s Daughter, New York, N.Y.: Dodd, Mead and Company, published 1919, →OCLC:
      "I don't want to spoil any comparison you are going to make," said Jim, "but I was at Winchester and New College." ¶ "That will do," said Mackenzie. "I was dragged up at the workhouse school till I was twelve. […]"
    • 2011 August 5, “What the Arab papers say”, in The Economist:
      ‘This is a great day for us. Let us not spoil it by saying the wrong thing, by promoting a culture of revenge, or by failing to treat the former president with respect.’
  6. (transitive) To ruin the character of, by overindulgence; to coddle or pamper to excess. [from 17th c.]
  7. (intransitive) Of food, to become bad, sour or rancid; to decay. [from 17th c.]
    Make sure you put the milk back in the fridge, otherwise it will spoil.
  8. (transitive) To render (a ballot paper) invalid by deliberately defacing it. [from 19th c.]
    • 2003, David Nicoll, The Guardian, letter:
      Dr Jonathan Grant (Letters, April 22) feels the best way to show his disaffection with political parties over Iraq is to spoil his ballot paper.
  9. (transitive) To reveal the ending or major events of (a story etc.); to ruin (a surprise) by exposing it ahead of time.
    • 2018 November 14, Jesse Hassenger, “Disney Goes Viral with an Ambitious, Overstuffed Wreck-It Ralph Sequel”, in The A.V. Club[2], archived from the original on 21 November 2019:
      These include a brief but showstopping (and trailer-revealed) scene where Vanellope crashes a Disney Princess reunion, packed with gags and references that should send both young and old fans into paroxysms of glee. The princess confab also leads into a scene featuring Vanellope and the cast of Slaughter Race that probably shouldn’t be spoiled.
  10. (aviation) To reduce the lift generated by an airplane or wing by deflecting air upwards, usually with a spoiler.


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spoil (plural spoils)

  1. (Also in plural: spoils) Plunder taken from an enemy or victim.
  2. (archaic) The act of taking plunder from an enemy or victim; spoliation, pillage, rapine.
  3. (uncountable) Material (such as rock or earth) removed in the course of an excavation, or in mining or dredging. Tailings. Such material could be utilised somewhere else.
    • 1961 December, “Planning the London Midland main-line electrification”, in Trains Illustrated, page 721:
      In view of the decline in freight traffic, it was strange to hear from Mr. Lambert that there is "a continuing problem of supplying, particularly for the civil engineer, the number of wagons required for carrying construction materials and spoil for various works."


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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See also[edit]


  • spoil”, in OneLook Dictionary Search.