verb (used with object), spoiled or spoilt, spoil·ing.

verb (used without object), spoiled or spoilt, spoil·ing.

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.


Nearby words

  1. spodogenous,
  2. spodosol,
  3. spodumene,
  4. spohr,
  5. spohr, ludwig,
  6. spoil bank,
  7. spoil for,
  8. spoil ground,
  9. spoilage,
  10. spoiled priest


    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

1300–50; (v.) Middle English spoilen < Old French espoillier < Latin spoliāre to despoil, equivalent to spoli(um) booty + -āre infinitive suffix; (noun) derivative of the v. or < Old French espoille, derivative of espoillier

1. disfigure, destroy, demolish, mar. Spoil, ruin, wreck agree in meaning to reduce the value, quality, usefulness, etc., of anything. Spoil is the general term: to spoil a delicate fabric. Ruin implies doing completely destructive or irreparable injury: to ruin one's health. Wreck implies a violent breaking up or demolition: to wreck oneself with drink; to wreck a building.

Related formsspoil·a·ble, adjectivespoil·less, adjectiveun·spoil·a·ble, adjectiveun·spoiled, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for spoils

British Dictionary definitions for spoils


pl n

(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


verb spoils, spoiling, spoilt or spoiled

(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
  1. the act of plundering
  2. a strategically placed building, city, etc, captured as plunder
See also spoils

Word Origin for spoil

C13: from Old French espoillier, from Latin spoliāre to strip, from spolium booty

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for spoils
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with spoils


In addition to the idioms beginning with spoil

  • spoil for

also see:

  • spare the rod and spoil the child
  • too many cooks spoil the broth
  • to the victor belong the spoils
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.