- to damage severely or harm (something), especially with reference to its excellence, value, usefulness, etc.: The water stain spoiled the painting. Drought spoiled the corn crop.
- to diminish or impair the quality of; affect detrimentally: Bad weather spoiled their vacation.
- to impair, damage, or harm the character or nature of (someone) by unwise treatment, excessive indulgence, etc.: to spoil a child by pampering him.
- Archaic. to strip (persons, places, etc.) of goods, valuables, etc.; plunder; pillage; despoil.
- Archaic. to take or seize by force.
- to become bad, or unfit for use, as food or other perishable substances; become tainted or putrid: Milk spoils if not refrigerated.
- to plunder, pillage, or rob.
- Often spoils. booty, loot, or plunder taken in war or robbery.
- the act of plundering.
- an object of plundering.
- Usually spoils.
- the emoluments and advantages of public office viewed as won by a victorious political party: the spoils of office.
- prizes won or treasures accumulated: a child's spoils brought home from a party.
- waste material, as that which is cast up in mining, excavating, quarrying, etc.
- an imperfectly made object, damaged during the manufacturing process.
- be spoiling for, Informal. to be very eager for; be desirous of: It was obvious that he was spoiling for a fight.
Origin of spoil
SynonymsSee more synonyms for spoil on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for spoils
Yet instead of disbelieving that the facts will set us free, we cling to them as if they were spoils of war.On Torture, Chuck Johnson & Sondheim
December 13, 2014
Over time, old rivalries began to deepen, particularly over the spoils of corruption.‘The Good Lie’ and the Hard Truths of South Sudan
October 3, 2014
Perhaps worst of all, this scramble for spoils raises the value of gains even as it lowers the bar for action.Is Democracy Doomed Abroad?
August 31, 2014
Meanwhile, ISIS amassed resources, money, and heavy weapons brought back as spoils from their military victories in Iraq.Obama Is Just 'Tickling' ISIS, Syrian Rebels Say
August 25, 2014
Kourtney Kardashian (Keeping Up With the Kardashians) Kourtney spoils her son, Mason, and she and her boyfriend love him a lot.TV’s Best and Worst Moms: ‘Veep,’ ‘Game of Thrones,’ and More
The Daily Beast Video
May 11, 2014
"Spoils the hoof to put the knife on the sole, Buck," said the smith.
There they sat down around a council table, and there they divided the spoils.
Leave these to parties contending for office, as the "spoils of victory."The Works of Whittier, Volume VII (of VII)
John Greenleaf Whittier
Out of so many conquests and the spoils of conquered cities!Alexander's Bridge and The Barrel Organ
Willa Cather and Alfred Noyes
Maria Novella, while it spoils the classical ornaments of the mouldings.Modern Painters Volume II (of V)
- (sometimes singular) valuables seized by violence, esp in war
- mainly US the rewards and benefits of public office regarded as plunder for the winning party or candidateSee also spoils system
- (tr) to cause damage to (something), in regard to its value, beauty, usefulness, etc
- (tr) to weaken the character of (a child) by complying unrestrainedly with its desires
- (intr) (of perishable substances) to become unfit for consumption or usethe fruit must be eaten before it spoils
- (intr) sport to disrupt the play or style of an opponent, as to prevent him from settling into a rhythm
- archaic to strip (a person or place) of (property or goods) by force or violence
- be spoiling for to have an aggressive desire for (a fight, etc)
- waste material thrown up by an excavation
- any treasure accumulated by a personthis gold ring was part of the spoil
- the act of plundering
- a strategically placed building, city, etc, captured as plunder
Word Origin and History for spoils
c.1300, from Old French espoillier "to strip, plunder," from Latin spoliare "to strip of clothing, rob," from spolium "armor stripped from an enemy, booty;" originally "skin stripped from a killed animal," from PIE *spol-yo-, perhaps from root *spel- "to split, to break off" (cf. Greek aspalon "skin, hide," spolas "flayed skin;" Lithuanian spaliai "shives of flax;" Old Church Slavonic rasplatiti "to cleave, split;" Middle Low German spalden, Old High German spaltan "to split;" Sanskrit sphatayati "splits").
Sense of "to damage so as to render useless" is from 1560s; that of "to over-indulge" (a child, etc.) is from 1640s (implied in spoiled). Intransitive sense of "to go bad" is from 1690s. To be spoiling for (a fight, etc.) is from 1865, from notion that one will "spoil" if he doesn't get it. Spoil-sport attested from 1801.
"goods captured in time of war," c.1300; see spoil (v.). Spoils system in U.S. politics attested by 1839, commonly associated with the administration of President Andrew Jackson, on the notion of "to the victor belongs the spoils."
Idioms and Phrases with spoils
In addition to the idioms beginning with spoil
- spoil for
- spare the rod and spoil the child
- too many cooks spoil the broth
- to the victor belong the spoils