Definition of spoil in English:

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Pronunciation: /spɔɪl/

verb (past and past participle spoilt (chiefly British ) or spoiled)

[with object]
1Diminish or destroy the value or quality of: I wouldn’t want to spoil your fun a series of political blunders spoilt their chances of being re-elected
More example sentences
  • The audience are audible throughout but not in such a way as to spoil the audio quality.
  • I don't know, but it's certainly odd - not that it spoils the fun in any way.
  • Part of the enjoyment in watching this movie is that the viewer doesn't know where the story is going, so I won't spoil the fun by giving away plot points.
mar, damage, impair, blemish, disfigure, blight, flaw, deface, scar, injure, harm;
ruin, destroy, wreck;
be a blot on the landscape
rare disfeature
1.1Prevent someone from enjoying (an occasion or event): she was afraid of spoiling Christmas for the rest of the family
More example sentences
  • To say too much would be to spoil the occasion, but there are twists, turns and horrific blood curdling scenes of carnage.
  • Finally, at half past seven the guests agreed it was a pity to spoil a good dinner and seated themselves to a delicious meal.
  • Theater owners like to throw up their hands and blame the shortcomings of the patrons and films, but they're not acknowledging their role in spoiling a once-magical experience.
ruin, wreck, destroy, upset, undo, mess up, make a mess of, dash, sabotage, scupper, scotch, torpedo, blast, vitiate;
cast a shadow over, cast a pall over, cloud, darken, take the shine off, put a damper on, take the enjoyment/pleasure out of, take the edge off;
upset someone's apple cart, cook someone's goose
informal foul up, louse up, muck up, queer, screw up, put the kibosh on, banjax, blow a hole in, do for, nix
British informal cock up, dish, muller, queer someone's pitch, throw a spanner in the works of
North American informal rain on someone's parade, throw a monkey wrench in the works of
Australian informal cruel, euchre
vulgar slang bugger up, fuck up, balls up
archaic bring to naught
1.2Mark (a ballot paper) incorrectly so as to make one’s vote invalid, especially as a gesture of protest: the group called on its supporters to spoil their papers
More example sentences
  • Even during the now-pivotal 2000 election, when Rage was so tight their voice actually could have made a difference, the band spoiled their ballot.
1.3 [no object] (Of food) become unfit for eating: I’ve got some ham that’ll spoil if we don’t eat it tonight
More example sentences
  • Did you know that honey is the only food that won't spoil?
  • Grapes consisted of an actual bunch hanging on a string; as it spoiled, individual grapes spatted on the floor.
  • Sometimes there are crops that won't grow, grain that spoils, or a piece of machinery turns out to be a lemon.
go bad, go off, go rancid, turn, go sour, sour, go mouldy, moulder, become addled, curdle, become rotten, rot, perish, decompose, decay, putrefy
2Harm the character of (a child) by being too lenient or indulgent: the last thing I want to do is spoil Thomas (as adjective spoilt or spoiled) a spoilt child
More example sentences
  • Until then I had been a very spoiled child by my mother, my grandpa and my maternal family which was kind of a biblical family.
  • Both husband and wife turn to Hunt for help, each implying that the other is mentally unbalanced, terrorizing or spoiling their only child, the five year old Alec.
  • Mrs. Reed is a rich, pretentious and condescending woman, and her children are terribly spoiled, cruel and rude.
2.1Treat with great or excessive kindness, consideration, or generosity: breakfast in bed—you’re spoiling me!
More example sentences
  • Captain Auld considers Douglass to have been spoiled by life in the city.
  • When she leaves him, she is pregnant with his son, whom she spoils with gifts and excess once born.
  • In another two scenes at a local cabaret venue, he spoils us with a couple more songs.
3 [no object] (be spoiling for) Be extremely or aggressively eager for: Cooper was spoiling for a fight
More example sentences
  • But the drama was only just beginning and, as the Lords began debating the bill, it became obvious that they were spoiling for a fight.
  • Not everyone, however, is spoiling for a fight.
  • Many of the girls who greeted Em warmly happened to date him at one time or another in their lives, and were spoiling for righteous retribution.
eager for, itching for, looking for, keen to have, raring for, after, bent on, set on, on the lookout for, longing for
4 archaic Rob (a person or a place) of goods or possessions by force or violence: the enemy entered into Hereford, spoiled and fired the city, and razed the walls to the ground


1 (usually spoils) Goods stolen or taken forcibly from a person or place: the looters carried their spoils away
More example sentences
  • The spoils of plunder were divided between temples, with the victor keeping his share.
  • We've always been incredibly good at this sort of imperialistic thing of bringing back the spoils of our plunders overseas and putting a unique twist on them, and a little bit of dry British humor.
  • It's important that I get a fair share of the spoils.
booty, loot, stolen goods, plunder, ill-gotten gains, haul, pickings, takings
informal, dated swag, boodle
formal perquisites
rare appanages
2 [mass noun] Waste material brought up during the course of an excavation or a dredging or mining operation: colliery spoil
More example sentences
  • It also looks at how existing spoil heaps are being leveled and landscaped.
  • Down there in the mud the diggers heap spoil into piles.
  • Severe compaction sometimes occurs when the spoil or topsoil material is moved when too wet during the reclamation process.


be spoilt for choice

British Have so many options that it is difficult to make a choice.
Example sentences
  • There were so many good dogs there, you were spoilt for choice.
  • To my surprise, we were spoilt for choice on the food front too.
  • Ms Donovan, said: ‘The selection panel was spoilt for choice.’


Middle English (in the sense 'to plunder'): shortening of Old French espoille (noun), espoillier (verb), from Latin spoliare, from spolium 'plunder, skin stripped from an animal', or a shortening of despoil.

Words that rhyme with spoil

boil, Boyle, broil, coil, Dáil, Doyle, embroil, Fianna Fáil, foil, Hoyle, moil, noil, oil, roil, Royle, soil, toil, voile

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: spoil

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