Pronunciation Verb

spoil (spoils, present participle spoiling; past and past participle spoiled)

  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.]
    • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Acts of the Apostles 9:21:
      All that herde hym wer amased and sayde: ys nott this he that spoylled them whych called on this name in Jerusalem?
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, VII:
      To do her dye (quoth Vna) were despight, / And shame t'auenge so weake an enimy; / But spoile her of her scarlot robe, and let her fly.
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: […], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970 ↗, partition I, section 2, member 4, subsection vii:
      Roger, that rich Bishop of Salisbury, […] spoiled of his goods by King Stephen, […] through grief ran mad, spoke and did he knew not what.
  3. (ambitransitive, archaic) To plunder, pillage (a city, country etc.). [from 14th c.]
    • 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, King James Version of the Bible, Gospel of 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, London: T. Passinger, p. 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, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Chapter 38,
      […] 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.]
    • Spiritual pride spoils many graces.
    • 1909, Archibald Marshall [pseudonym; Arthur Hammond Marshall], chapter II, in The Squire’s Daughter, London: Methuen, OCLC 12026604 ↗; republished New York, N.Y.: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1919, OCLC 491297620 ↗:
      "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, ‘What the Arab papers say’, The Economist, 5 Aug 2011:
      ‘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.
    • 14 November 2018, Jesse Hassenger, AV Club Disney goes viral with an ambitious, overstuffed Wreck-It Ralph sequel
      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.
Synonyms Related terms Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Noun

spoil (plural spoils)

  1. (Also in plural: spoils) Plunder taken from an enemy or victim.
  2. (uncountable) Material (such as rock or earth) removed in the course of an excavation, or in mining or dredging. Tailings.
  • (plunder taken from an enemy or victim) seeSynonyms en
  • (material moved) gangue, slag, tailings
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