Definition of “spoil” - English Dictionary

“spoil” in British English

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uk /spɔɪl/ us /spɔɪl/ spoiled or spoilt, spoiled or spoilt

spoil verb (DESTROY)

B1 [ T ] to destroy or reduce the pleasure, interest, or beauty of something:

He tried not to let the bad news spoil his evening.
The oil spill has spoiled the whole beautiful coastline.
I haven't seen the film, so don't spoil it for me by telling me what happens.
You'll spoil your appetite for dinner if you have a cake now.

[ I or T ] When food spoils or is spoiled, it is no longer good enough to eat:

The dessert will spoil if you don't keep it in the fridge.

[ T ] UK specialized politics to mark a ballot paper so that it cannot be officially counted as a vote:

Since she supported none of the candidates, she spoiled her ballot paper.

More examples

  • He wasn't enjoying the occasion so he thought he'd spoil it for everyone else - it was very childish of him.
  • Knowing the ending already didn't spoil my enjoyment of the film.
  • The government is understandably reluctant to do anything which might spoil the harmonious relations between the country's ethnic groups.
  • I won't have any chocolate, thanks. It will spoil my appetite.
  • Let it rain - it won't spoil our afternoon.


uk /spɔɪl/ us /spɔɪl/

(Definition of “spoil” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“spoil” in American English

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us /spɔɪl/ past tense and past participle spoiled /spɔɪld/ spoilt /spɔɪlt/

spoil verb (DESTROY)

[ I/T ] to destroy or damage something, or to become destroyed or damaged:

[ T ] The oil spill spoiled five miles of coastline.
[ T ] Don’t tell me how it ends, you’ll spoil the movie for me.
[ I ] Food spoils quickly in hot weather.

spoil verb (TREAT TOO WELL)

[ T ] to treat someone very well, esp. by being too generous:

My vacation spoiled me.
"We’re spoiling you," he said, handing her another cookie.

(Definition of “spoil” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)