To the victor belong the spoils

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To the victor belong the spoils is a proverb that may not be as old as you think. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase. These common sayings are language tools that particularly give advice or share a universal truth, or impart wisdom. Synonyms for proverb include adage, aphorism, sayings, and byword, which can also be someone or something that is the best example of a group. Often, a proverb is so familiar that a speaker will only quote half of it, relying on the listener to supply the ending of the written or spoken proverb himself. Speakers of English as a second language are sometimes confused by these pithy sayings as translations from English to other languages do not carry the impact that the English phrases carry. Some common proverbs are the wise sayings better late than never, early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, haste makes waste, blood is thicker than water, and a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. One of the books of the Bible is the Book of Proverbs, which contains words and phrases that are still often quoted in the English language because they are wise. Many current proverbs are quotations taken from literature, particularly Shakespeare, as well as the Bible and other sacred writings. We will examine the meaning of the expression to the victor belong the spoils, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

To the victor belong the spoils means that the person who wins or succeeds beyond all others is entitled to the benefits or rewards associated with that success. The proverb is expressed in various ways: to the victor go the spoils, the victor gets the spoils, etc. The phrase to the victor belong the spoils was coined by the American senator, William L. Marcy from New York, in 1832. Marcy was defending the spoils system, in which victorious politicians award appointments and jobs to their friends and supporters.


To the victor belong the spoils, and young Egan Bernal‘s victory will have its place in history, but 2019 was Alaphilippe’s Tour. (Cycling Weekly)

Instead the system is built upon a spoils system whose unwritten credo is “to the victor belong the spoils.” (The Daily Monitor)

In this Darwinian world of man evolving from beast, in our cardboard jungle, the rule of thumb is “survival of the fittest” and “to the victor belong the spoils.” (The Jerusalem Post)