Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: spoil, n.; spoils.

spoil, n.; spoils. The plural form is preferred in set phrases {the spoils of war} {to the victor belong the spoils} and in similar uses when multiple objects are referred to {the looters carried off their spoils} — e.g.: o "The spoils of unmanned space exploration are clear — conveniences of modern life such as mobile phones and satellite television would not function without the vast fleets of satellites that orbit the Earth." Anjana Ahuja, "Why Man Will Always Reach for the Stars," Times (London), 3 Feb. 2003, at 4. o "Now, China is crossing the sea in the other direction, bringing home spoils from Japan." Peter S. Goodman & Akiko Kashiwagi, "Imperial Irony Building in Japan," Wash. Post, 6 Feb. 2003, at E1. The singular form is very rare, but occasionally seen: "We, the sales professionals steeped in knowledge and cunning, ever testing each other, encouraging each other, ever eager for chase, and no more ashamed to be called by our proper name, and to take our fair share of the spoil." Mark Borkowski, "Electronics Sales People and Hunters," Canadian Electronics, 1 Nov. 2002, at 4. For information about the Language-Change Index, click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: "I will tell you what I have found spoil more good talks than anything else — long arguments on special points between people who differ on the fundamental principles upon which these points depend." Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table 12 (1858; rev. ed. 1893).
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