Definition of spoliation in US English:



  • 1The action of ruining or destroying something.

    ‘the spoliation of the countryside’
    • ‘Urban expansion was contained, agricultural and forest management balanced, and attempts were made to redress spoliation.’
    • ‘It is all a question of achieving a balance.; it would be counter-productive if we were to swing from the excesses of the 80s when demolition and spoliation were rife, to a kind of conservation bureaucracy or totalitarianism.’
    • ‘Eventually, this would lead to its physical spoliation, but that was in the future.’
    • ‘None of us wants to feel responsible for the spoliation of sites, but even there the acquisitions process is not as guilty as is often alleged.’
    • ‘All were acutely aware of the cultural richness of their country and all deeply appalled at the spoliation of their very special heritage and felt that their national identity had been attacked and undermined.’
    decay, degradation, degeneration, breakdown, decomposition, rot, putrefaction, perishing
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  • 2The action of taking goods or property from somewhere by illegal or unethical means.

    ‘the spoliation of the Church’
    • ‘Profoundly controversial to contemporaries, this was an unparalleled secular spoliation of ecclesiastical property.’
    • ‘So far, eight cases of alleged Nazi-era spoliation have emerged in the UK.’
    • ‘The spoliation of the Church compounded such problems.’
    • ‘In August 2003 the museum approached the Attorney General to ask whether he has the power to authorise the museum trustees to restitute in the case of Nazi-era spoliation.’
    • ‘There was also a change in outlook, as spoliation was no longer viewed narrowly as wartime looting, but as also covering losses suffered by Jewish collectors in Germany after the Nazis seized power in 1933.’
    robbery, robbing, raiding, pillaging, plunder, plundering, looting, sacking, sack, ransacking, ravaging, laying waste, devastation, depredation, rape, harrying, marauding
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Late Middle English (denoting pillaging): from Latin spoliatio(n-), from the verb spoliare ‘strip, deprive’ (see spoil).