Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To deprive of something valuable, especially by force; rob.
  • transitive verb To ruin, especially by destroying or removing what is valuable.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Spoil; plunder; spoliation.
  • 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.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Middle English despoilen, from Old French despoillier, from Latin dēspoliāre : dē-, de- + spoliāre, to plunder (from spolium, booty).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French despoiller ( > French dépouiller), from Latin dēspoliō.

Examples

  • Allow no man, under any pretense, to despoil you of your virtue.

    A Renegade History of the United States

  • In addressing these and countless projects like them up and down the state, Californians have relied on CEQA for over 40 years to protect their communities and our natural resources from environmentally uninformed government decisions -- decisions that needlessly pollute our air, contaminate our water, endanger our children's health, despoil our wild lands, and undermine the quality of our lives.

    Joel Reynolds: Handle CEQA With Care

  • They say Canadian oil-sands crude, which made up about half of the 1.9 million barrels of oil a day Canada exported to the U.S. in 2009, is more likely to spill from pipelines and despoil land in the U.S.

    Oil-Sands Pipeline Fuels Concern

  • How can we have free elections, runs a classic line, as long as they despoil our sacred Islamic lands?

    The Arab Spring and The Palestine Distraction

  • Once upon a time, repelled (rightly) by Canada's treatment of First Nations people, and in particular the Ontario government's collaboration with Big Mining to despoil Indian lands and jail their leaders, she preached aboriginal revolution:

    Archive 2009-11-01

  • In addressing these and countless projects like them up and down the state, Californians have relied on CEQA for over 40 years to protect their communities and our natural resources from environmentally uninformed government decisions -- decisions that needlessly pollute our air, contaminate our water, endanger our children's health, despoil our wild lands, and undermine the quality of our lives.

    Joel Reynolds: Handle CEQA With Care

  • For good measure and in keeping with his employer's philosophy, Watt permitted commercial interests to exploit and despoil previously off-limits publicly owned wilderness.

    Edward Flattau: Reagan's Birthday Caveat

  • We can now despoil each other of countless types of assets, from a world away.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Outrageous Treaty Nonsense, or The Copyright Tail Wagging the Internet Dog

  • For good measure and in keeping with his employer's philosophy, Watt permitted commercial interests to exploit and despoil previously off-limits publicly owned wilderness.

    Edward Flattau: Reagan's Birthday Caveat

  • Together they join to resist the Crushers of corporate-military power that seek to despoil their world.

    Rabbi Arthur Waskow: Big Coal, 'Avatar' And Tu B'Shvat

Comments

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  • Grans are bewildered by post-Coronation disintegration;

    offspring of offspring of their offspring infest and despoil.

    - Peter Reading, Ukulele Music, 1985

    May 30, 2009

  • 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