In response to describing myself on Christmas Day as spoilt, one of my acquaintances corrected me, saying that the word I should have used was ‘spoiled’. Their intentions were good, I’m sure, but they were, to put it bluntly… wrong.
‘Spoiled’ and ‘spoilt’ are similar words that are easily confused with one another. Both come from the word ‘spoil’ which has a number of meanings of its own.
In the US, they use ‘spoiled’ for everything. That certainly simplifies things!
In the UK and Australia, however, the two variants of the word are used differently.
‘Spoiled’ is generally used as the past tense verb of ‘spoil’, although it is not incorrect to use ‘spoilt’ instead.
Therefore, last week’s roast that has gone rancid, a sheet of paper that has had something spilled on it, and a natural landscape defaced by deforestation, mining or construction are most often referred to as spoiled, but can be described as having been spoilt.
Spoilt is favoured as the adjective for things that have been spoiled.
Children — and occasionally adults — who have received too many presents for Christmas or a birthday, enjoyed too many indulgences, or experienced too little discipline in their lives are often said to be spoilt or, in excessive cases, spoilt rotten.
So, over Christmas, I could quite rightly describe myself as spoilt or spoilt rotten. Given that I looked, felt and smelled fine, I am confident that I wasn’t spoiled at all.
Easily confused words: spoiled vs. spoilt.Tweet
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