'Spoilt' vs 'Spoiled': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on January 27, 2023

Are you wondering whether there's a difference between 'spoilt' vs 'spoiled,' or are they interchangeable? Look no further; all will be revealed in this article.

In short, the answer depends on where you are based. If you're in the United States, 'spoiled' is always the preferred word. If you're in the United Kingdom, you'll want to use 'spoiled' in some instances and 'spoilt' in others.

What's the Difference Between 'Spoilt' vs 'Spoiled?'

These two words are sometimes interchangeable, sometimes not. It depends on the context of your sentence.

If you're using the past indefinite tense, as in you're speaking of an event that has already occurred, then you'll want to use 'spoiled' no matter where you are.

If you're using the past participle, you'll still use 'spoiled' if you're in the US, but you'll use 'spoilt' if you're in the UK.

This makes the verb 'spoil' both a regular and irregular verb. 'Spoiled' is the regular form of the verb because it follows the usual conventions of conjugating a verb into the past indefinite or past participle tense: add -ed at the end. 'Spoilt' is the irregular form of the verb.

There are many other examples of such regular/irregular verbs that differ depending on where you are based. Some of the few we have covered include the following:

What Does it Mean?

To spoil someone is to treat them with excessive generosity or lenience. To spoil something is "to destroy or reduce the pleasure, interest, or beauty" of it. You can also spoil food, meaning it goes bad and is no longer edible, or you can spoil a ballot paper, meaning your vote is no longer valid.

'Spoilt' and 'spoiled' are different tenses of the verb 'to spoil.'

But 'spoiled' and 'spoilt' can also be an adjective to refer to someone who is spoiled. A common example is a spoiled child who always gets what they want. In this sense, 'spoiled' is most common in the US and 'spoilt' is more common in the UK, just like the past participle.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Spoilt' and 'Spoiled'

So how do you pronounce these words? First of all, let's take a look at how the International Phonetic Alphabet spells them. It spells 'spoilt' like this:


And 'spoiled' like this:


And when you say these words, they sound like this:


When to Use 'Spoilt' and 'Spoiled'

Time to look at some examples of these words in a sentence. Since they both have the same meaning and they only change depending on your location, I'll use them both interchangeably in the following examples.

My birthday party is completely spoilt, thanks to both of you.

I forgot to put the vegetables in the fridge, so they spoiled overnight.

His ballot was spoilt because he wrote a message on the piece of paper.

Being a teacher takes a lot of patience; many of the children are used to being spoiled at home.

She's a spoilt child who doesn't understand there are consequences to her actions.

Concluding Thoughts

After reading this article, I hope you feel more confident about using 'spoilt' and 'spoiled.' If in doubt, just use 'spoiled' as that's always guaranteed to be correct.

Visit our blog to learn more confusing words and other American vs British English variations.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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