Word of the Day: spoil

Word of the Day
July 14, 2016
spoil (verb)
/spɔɪl/  sound icon
This milk has spoiled!
To spoil something means 'to damage it to the point were it is no longer useful' or, more mildly, 'to reduce or affect the quality of something.' It also means 'to go bad' when we talk about food—although we would more often say go bad or, in the UK, go off in this context. To spoil someone, usually a child, means 'to be too indulgent and give in to all the child's wishes.' It is also used for adults with the slightly different meaning of giving them something they would like or treating them with a lot of kindness.


Example sentences
Ethan's shirt was completely spoiled by the stain the red wine left on it.
The rain spoiled our picnic.
This milk has spoiled; it tastes awful!
They spoil that child; he always gets his own way. It's no wonder none of the other kids like him.
For our anniversary, my husband really spoiled me by buying me flowers and taking me out for dinner at a fantastic restaurant.


Words often used with spoil
spoiled brat: a child who has been spoiled or an adult who was spoiled as a child. Example: "Everyone has to do their share of the housework, so stop being such a spoiled brat and help out!"
Multi-word forms
be spoiling for a fight, be spoiling for an argument: be antagonistic, try to provoke a fight. Example: "Helen came home from work in a really bad mood; it was obvious she was spoiling for a fight and even though her girlfriend tried to calm her down, they ended up arguing."
be spoilt for choice (UK): have a lot of choices. Example: "Eric graduated at the top of his class, so he had no trouble finding a job; in fact he got so many offers, he was spoilt for choice."
Additional information
As a verb, spoil also has a now archaic meaning of 'to rob' or 'pillage.' From this verb, we get the noun spoil, which is still in use, meaning 'stolen goods,' 'booty,' or 'plunder.' It can be used as a collective noun in the singular—for example, "The pirates divided up the spoil between them"—but is more often used in the plural, especially in expressions such as the spoils of war, to refer to goods acquired as the result of war.
Did you know?
The related noun spoiler is an informal word for information about what happens in a movie, a TV show, or a book. At the top of a movie review, you may sometimes see something like "This article contains spoilers." If you see that and you don't want to know what happens in the movie before you go to see it, don't read the review! We also sometimes say "spoiler alert" to let someone know that we are about to reveal a piece of information like that. So for example, you might say, "Spoiler alert, Bruce Willis's character in The Sixth Sense is actually dead!"
Other forms
spoilt (adjective, UK), spoiled (adjective, US/UK), spoiler (noun)
Spoil was first used in Middle English (spoilen) in the early 14th century, with the meaning to 'rob or plunder.' It comes from the Old French espoille, a derivative of espoillier, and originally from the Latin spoliāre. The noun spoil (now almost always spoils), meaning 'booty or riches from robbery or war' comes from the verb. The meaning we use today, 'to destroy or ruin,' first appeared in the mid-16th century, and was not used to mean food going bad until the end of the 17th century. Finally, the sense of 'being too indulgent first appeared in the mid-17th century, and it has only been used for adults for the past 100 years.
Spoil in other languages
Due was suggested by Marta
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