Despoil is to spoil, only worse. You may spoil a dinner party by being late, but we all despoil the earth with pollution and over-consumption.

The Latin root of despoil meant "to strip or rob" and although despoil is used more broadly now, it has that sense within it. When we despoil the earth, we rob it of its beauty and strip it of its natural resources. In the same way, an invading army might despoil a village, wrecking houses and stealing valuables.

Definitions of despoil
  1. verb
    steal goods; take as spoils
    synonyms: foray, loot, pillage, plunder, ransack, reave, rifle, strip
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    deplume, displume
    strip of honors, possessions, or attributes
    type of:
    take by force
  2. verb
    destroy and strip of its possession
    synonyms: plunder, rape, spoil, violate
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    type of:
    destroy, ruin
    destroy completely; damage irreparably
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