Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To impair the value or quality of.
  • transitive v. To damage irreparably; ruin.
  • transitive v. To impair the completeness, perfection, or unity of; flaw grievously: spoiled the party.
  • transitive v. To do harm to the character, nature, or attitude of by oversolicitude, overindulgence, or excessive praise. See Synonyms at pamper.
  • transitive v. Archaic To plunder; despoil.
  • transitive v. Archaic To take by force.
  • intransitive v. To become unfit for use or consumption, as from decay. Used especially of perishables, such as food. See Synonyms at decay.
  • intransitive v. To pillage.
  • n. Goods or property seized from a victim after a conflict, especially after a military victory.
  • n. Incidental benefits reaped by a winner, especially political patronage enjoyed by a successful party or candidate.
  • n. An object of plunder; prey.
  • n. Refuse material removed from an excavation.
  • n. Archaic The act of plundering; spoliation.
  • spoil for To be eager for: spoiling for a fight.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To reveal the ending of (a story etc.); to ruin (a surprise) by exposing it ahead of time.
  • n. Plunder taken from an enemy or victim.
  • n. Material (such as rock or earth) removed in the course of an excavation, or in mining or dredging. Tailings.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That which is taken from another by violence; especially, the plunder taken from an enemy; pillage; booty.
  • n. Public offices and their emoluments regarded as the peculiar property of a successful party or faction, to be bestowed for its own advantage; -- commonly in the plural.
  • n. That which is gained by strength or effort.
  • n. The act or practice of plundering; robbery; waste.
  • n. Corruption; cause of corruption.
  • n. The slough, or cast skin, of a serpent or other animal.
  • intransitive v. To practice plunder or robbery.
  • intransitive v. To lose the valuable qualities; to be corrupted; to decay.
  • transitive v. To plunder; to strip by violence; to pillage; to rob; -- with of before the name of the thing taken.
  • transitive v. To seize by violence; to take by force; to plunder.
  • transitive v. To cause to decay and perish; to corrupt; to vitiate; to mar.
  • transitive v. To render useless by injury; to injure fatally; to ruin; to destroy

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To strip with violence; rob; pillage; plunder; despoil: with of before the thing taken.
  • To seize or take by force; carry off as booty.
  • To destroy; ruin; injure; mar; impair; render useless, or less valuable, potent, or the like; seriously impair the quality, value, soundness, beauty, usefulness, pleasantness, etc., of: as, to spoil a thing in the making; to spoil one's chances of promotion; to spoil the fun.
  • To injure, vitiate, or impair in any way; especially, as applied to persons, to vitiate or impair in character or disposition; render less filial, obedient, affectionate, mannerly, modest, contented, or the like: as, to spare the rod and spoil the child; to spoil one with flattery.
  • To cut up; carve: as, to spoil a hen.
  • To engage in plunder and robbery; pillage; rob.
  • To decay; become tainted or unsavory; lose freshness: as, fruit and fish soon spoil in warm weather.
  • n. Arms and armor stripped from a defeated enemy; the plunder taken from an enemy in war; booty; loot; hence, that which is seized or falls to one after any struggle; specifically, in recent use, the patronage and emoluments of office, considered as a reward for zeal or service rendered in a struggle of parties: frequently in the plural: as, the spoils of capture; to the victor belong the spoils; the spoils of office; party spoils.
  • n. The act of plundering, pillaging, or despoiling; the act of spoliation; pillage; robbery.
  • n. Injury; damage; waste; havoc; destruction.
  • n. An object of pillage or spoliation; a thing to be preyed upon; a prey.
  • n. Waste material, as that obtained in mining, quarrying, excavating canals, making railway cuttings, etc. Compare spoil-bank.
  • n. The slough, or cast skin, of a serpent or other animal.
  • n. In spoil-five, a drawn game.
  • n. Synonyms Plunder, Booty, etc. See pillage, n.

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

  • v. hinder or prevent (the efforts, plans, or desires) of
  • v. treat with excessive indulgence
  • v. make a mess of, destroy or ruin
  • v. alter from the original
  • v. destroy and strip of its possession
  • v. make imperfect
  • v. become unfit for consumption or use
  • n. the act of spoiling something by causing damage to it
  • n. the act of stripping and taking by force
  • v. have a strong desire or urge to do something
  • n. (usually plural) valuables taken by violence (especially in war)

Etymologies

Middle English spoilen, to plunder, from Old French espoillier, from Latin spoliāre, from spolium, booty.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French espoillier, from Latin spoliāre, present active infinitive of spoliō ("pillage, ruin, spoil"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term spoil (ghanima) is applied specifically to property acquired by force from non-Muslims.

    Jihad Watch

  • What a ridiculous question would this be to him, who knows that in what we call spoil, he pursues the rational purposes of his own art; that to the excellence of the metal, he may also add the curiousness of the figure?

    Sermons Preached Upon Several Occasions. Vol. VI.

  • At issue was the massive amount of rock left over from the mountaintop-removal process, known as spoil, that is dumped into adjoining valleys, clogging up streams.

    Appeals Court Overturns Mountaintop Mine Rules

  • Persians to the rout; wherefore all the spoil is thine.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • 'Don't think any one will see it there,' he said, as he cut the candle down a trifle and lit it cautiously with a sputtering sulphur match, part of the spoil from the Turkish sentry.

    On Land and Sea at the Dardanelles

  • The word spoil commonly means now, to corrupt, injure, or destroy.

    Barnes New Testament Notes

  • The conditions of the covenant have been violated by the reservation of spoil from the doomed city; wickedness, emphatically called folly, has been committed in Israel (Ps 14: 1), and dissimulation, with other aggravations of the crime, continues to be practised.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

  • I am well content with my estates, and need no foot of English land, no share in English spoil I must fight for my liege lord as long as fighting goes on, but that over I hope to return here and live in peace.

    Wulf the Saxon A Story of the Norman Conquest

  • You need to learn that your girlfriend is an enabling idiot who has no idea what the word spoil actually means.

    NEWS.com.au | Top Stories

  • Where the 1979 regulations required haulage and placement of the rock and soil in compacted, constructed, engineered fills, OSM weakened the rules to allow end-dumping and wing-dumping from the mine bench of excessive amounts of mine "spoil" -- the soil and rock removed from above coal seams, into headwater streams.

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Comments

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  • Shake that spoil.

    May 19, 2008

  • Yes, and I must quote OED at booty--it sums up what we have been talking about.

    July 17, 2007

  • aka booty

    July 17, 2007

  • Original meaning was "to strip or plunder," hence, "goods siezed or plundered in war."

    July 17, 2007

  • Contronymic in the sense: prize vs. render useless.

    January 27, 2007