Spoiled or Spoilt?

While editing some web content recently I came across the sentence ‘I was spoiled for choice’ and I hesitated for a moment to consider whether the writer might have used ‘spoilt’ instead. I understand that Americans wouldn’t use ‘spoilt’ at all. But in the UK it’s not quite so clear-cut. In my Chambers Dictionary it says ‘spoiled (or only in the sense of damage) spoilt’. That implies that, as ‘spoiled for choice’ isn’t referring to damage, then spoiled is correct. I wondered what people in the ‘cloud’ thought and I came across a discussion forum on the subject at the University of Liverpool, with this post from a member called Sylph:

“I have a grammar book written by S.G.McKaskill titled A Dictionary of Good English, in which I find the comparison of “spoiled” with “spoilt” made by the author:

i. When the meaning is “damaged or impaired to some extent”, “spoiled” is generally preferred. When the sense is “ruined”–that is, when the spoiling is complete–the tendency is to use “spoilt”.

Examples: The cool wind spoiled our swimming carnival.
The cake was burnt so badly that it was completely spoilt.

ii. When the function is adjectival, “spoilt” is generally used, for example, a spoilt child, a spoilt dinner, a spoilt voting form.”

So now we know how, in this instance, spoiled should be spelled. Or spelt.

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