Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To sack; plunder.
  • transitive v. To deprive of something valuable by force; rob: a region despoiled of its scenic beauty by unchecked development.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To deprive for spoil; to take spoil from; to plunder; to rob; to pillage.
  • v. To violently strip (someone), with indirect object of their possessions etc.; to rob.
  • v. To strip (someone) of their clothes; to undress.
  • n. Plunder; spoliation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Spoil.
  • transitive v. To strip, as of clothing; to divest or unclothe.
  • transitive v. To deprive for spoil; to plunder; to rob; to pillage; to strip; to divest; -- usually followed by of.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To spoliate; take spoil from; strip of possessions; pillage: as, the army despoiled the enemy's country.
  • To deprive by spoliation; strip by force; plunder; bereave: with of: as, to despoil one of his goods or of honors.
  • To strip; divest; undress: used absolutely or with of.
  • n. Spoil; plunder; spoliation.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. steal goods; take as spoils
  • v. destroy and strip of its possession

Etymologies

Middle English despoilen, from Old French despoillier, from Latin dēspoliāre : dē-, de- + spoliāre, to plunder (from spolium, booty).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French despoiller ( > French dépouiller), from Latin dēspoliō. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Lie here with me dreaming,
    Cheek to cheek,
    Lithe limbs twined and gleaming,
    Brown and sleek;
    Like two serpents coiling
    In their lair.
    Where's the good of wreathing
    Sprays for Time's despoiling?
    Let me feel your breathing
    In my hair.

    - Richard Hovey, 'Launa Dee'.

    September 16, 2009

  • Grans are bewildered by post-Coronation disintegration;
    offspring of offspring of their offspring infest and despoil.

    - Peter Reading, Ukulele Music, 1985

    May 30, 2009