Spoiled or Spoilt?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Spoiled" and "Spoilt"?

"Spoiled" and "spoilt" are not fully interchangeable. In the US, "spoiled" dominates to the extent that "spoilt" is considered a spelling mistake.

In the UK, "spoilt" is sometimes used as the adjective (e.g., spoilt child) and the past participle (e.g., you have spoilt that child). However, Brits will also use "spoiled" as the adjective and the past participle. For the simple past tense, Brits (like Americans) prefer "spoiled."

Here's some simple advice: If you're unsure whether to use "spoiled" or "spoilt," use "spoiled."
spoilt or spoiled

More about "Spoiled" and "Spoilt"

The verb "to spoil" means to diminish or destroy the value or quality of something.

In US and UK writing conventions, the simple past tense of "to spoil" is "spoiled." Brits will sometimes use "spoilt" for the adjective and the past participle. For example:
  • She spoiled the pie. correct tick (small American flag) correct tick (small British flag)
  • (Here, "spoiled" is the simple past tense.)
  • The pie is spoilt. wrong cross (small American flag) correct tick (small British flag)
  • (Here, "spoilt" is an adjective. Brits accept this. Americans don't.)
  • The pie is spoiled. correct tick (small American flag) correct tick (small British flag)
  • (Here, "spoiled" is an adjective. Brits and Americans accept this.)

Americans Demand "Spoiled"

In America, "spoiled" dominates. The use of "spoilt" as the past tense or past participle of "to spoil" is widely regarded as a spelling mistake.

Brits Prefer "Spoiled" but Will Accept "Spoilt"

Outside America, "spoiled" is the most common of the two, but "spoilt" is generally accepted for the adjective or the past participle.

Verbs with Irregular and Regular Forms

"To spoil" is one of those verbs with both an irregular form and a regular form. The following verbs (like "to spoil") can be regular or irregular:
VerbPast SimplePast Participle
burnburned OR burntburned OR burnt
dreamdreamed OR dreamtdreamed OR dreamt
learnlearned OR learntlearned OR learnt
smellsmelled OR smeltsmelled OR smelt
spellspelled OR speltspelled OR spelt
Usually, the second form (e.g., "learnt," "spelt") is acceptable in British English only.

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See Also

hanged or hung? What are regular verbs? What are regular verbs? What is the past tense? What are past participles? adverse or averse? affect or effect? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? dived and dove e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? hanged and hung imply or infer? its or it's? learned and learnt material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? List of easily confused words

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