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From Middle High German verspiln. Analyzable as ver- +‎ spielen. In the sense of “to squander” reinforced by and merged with unrelated Middle Low German verspillen, verspilden (to waste). Compare Dutch verspillen.


  • IPA(key): /fɛɐ̯ˈʃpiːlən/, /fɐ-/, [-ˈʃpiːlən], [-ˈʃpiːl̩n]
  • (file)


verspielen (third-person singular simple present verspielt, past tense verspielte, past participle verspielt, auxiliary haben)

  1. (transitive) to gamble something away (lose something in a game)
    Spielsüchtige verspielen oft an einem Tag ganze Monatslöhne.
    Compulsive gamblers often gamble away entire monthly wages in one day.
  2. (transitive) to lose something lightly; to squander; to waste
    Er hat sein ganzes Erbe mit teuren Partys verspielt.
    He squandered his whole inheritance on expensive parties.
    Durch den Einmarsch in Afghanistan verspielten die USA leichtfertig ihre moralische Vorteilslage.
    By invading Afghanistan the US lightly wasted its moral high ground.
  3. (intransitive, chiefly in the perfect tenses, with bei) to lose someone’s goodwill
    Er hat bei ihr verspielt. — He is out of favour with her.
  4. (reflexive) to make a mistake at playing (e.g. play a wrong note on a music instrument)
    An dieser Stelle verspiele ich mich immer.
    I always play it wrong at this point.


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