Spilled or Spilt?
Spilled or Spilt?If you're following US writing conventions, it's best to use "spilled." If you're following UK writing conventions, you should also use "spilled," but "spilt" is widely accepted.
This graph shows that "spilled" has been more popular than "spilt" in British English since the 1940s.
Spilled and SpiltThe verb "to spill" most commonly means "to let a liquid flow over the edge of its container (especially by accident)."
"To spill" is one of those verbs with both an irregular form and a regular form. (See the table below for some others.) The past tense and the past participle can be written as either "spilled" or "spilt." However, "spilled" is the most popular in the UK and the US.
Americans Demand "Spilled"In America, "spilled" dominates. The use of "spilt" as the past tense or past participle of "to spill" is considered a spelling mistake by many. It will certainly annoy a fair proportion of your readers.
Brits Prefer "Spilled" but Will Accept "Spilt"Outside America, "spilled" is the more common of the two, but "spilt" is generally accepted. ("Spilt" was more common in British English throughout the 20th century, but "spilled" is now more common. [evidence] (The change is almost certainly a result of American influence spreading.)
Spilt MilkThe idiom "Do not cry over spilt milk" is advice not to get upset about something which cannot be changed.
If you're an American, this might be your big chance to use the word "spilt." You can always claim you're quoting an old idiom with British origins. ("Spilled milk" is also frequently written, so please don't think this is a rule. It's more of an opportunity.)
Verbs with Irregular and Regular FormsThe following verbs (like "to spell") can be regular or irregular:
|Verb||Past Simple||Past Participle|
|burn||burned OR burnt||burned OR burnt|
|dream||dreamed OR dreamt||dreamed OR dreamt|
|learn||learned OR learnt||learned OR learnt|
|smell||smelled OR smelt||smelled OR smelt|
|spell||spelled OR spelt||spelled OR spelt|
Read also about "hanged" and "hung."