Spoiled or Spoilt?

The Quick Answer
If you're unsure whether to use spoiled or spoilt, use spoiled.

In North America, spoilt is considered a spelling mistake. In the UK, however, spoilt is sometimes used as the adjective and past participle. Of note, Brits will also use spoiled as the adjective and the past participle. So, if you're unsure, use spoiled.

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. Of note, however, Brits will sometimes use spoilt for the adjective and the past participle. For example:
  • She spoiled the pie. () ()
  • (Here, spoiled is the simple past tense.)
  • The pie is spoilt. () ()
  • (Here, spoilt is an adjective. Brits accept this. Americans don't.)
  • The pie is spoiled. () ()
  • (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
hanghung
also hanged
hung
also hanged
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

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? 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?
What are verbs? What are regular verbs? What are regular verbs? What is the past tense? What are past participles? What are nouns? List of easily confused words