In its most general sense, spoliation just means the act of spoiling or wrecking something, from the Latin spoliare, to spoil. It's more usually used to mean plundering or pillaging, especially during war - plunder and pillage generally having a wartime connotation. Spoliation also refers to the seizure of neutral ships at sea during hostilities. Finally, there's the legal meaning, the deliberate destruction or alteration of a document. You know, like Nixon authorized.

Spo`li*a"tion (?), n. [L. spoliatio; cf. F. spoliation. See Spoil, v. t.]


The act of plundering; robbery; deprivation; despoliation.

Legal spoliation, which will impoverish one part of the community in order to corrupt the remainder. Sir G. C. Lewis.


Robbery or plunder in war; especially, the authorized act or practice of plundering neutrals at sea.

3. Eccl.Law (a)

The act of an incumbent in taking the fruits of his benefice without right, but under a pretended title.



A process for possession of a church in a spiritual court


4. Law

Injury done to a document.


© Webster 1913.

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