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Which word should be used here; 'boilt' or 'boiled'?

When the mother came home, the dinner had already been boilt/boiled.

I know that prepared/cooked/done are correct options, but I had to underline in my sentence that it was 'boiled'.

Should I remove 'the' before mother?

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Boiled. (Yum, boiled dinner.) And if you remove "the," then you should capitalize "Mother." When Mother came home... –  JLG May 9 '12 at 12:18
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"You oilt your car but your strategy was foilt by the distributor, which coilt in the corner like a snake. And then you soilt yourself." No, no, no. Please, no. –  Robusto May 9 '12 at 12:20

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I found a very clear answer to the question, phrased in a very simple language. An excerpt from David Crystal's blog post

I can find no trace of the "boilt" spelling in standard English. There are no instances in the OED, although there was a great deal of spelling variation in the early centuries of its use. But regional dictionaries show examples of word "boilt", especially in Scotland, Ulster, the Isle of Man, and parts of the USA (especially those influenced by Scots-Irish). A Scots poetic example from 1790: 'Twa pints o' weel-boilt solid sowins' [an oat-meal beverage].

With verbs which have two -ed forms, such as spoiled and spoilt, the situation is interesting and not entirely understood. The -t ending is rare in American English, certainly. In British English, an aspectual distinction is usually involved. The -ed form is used when the duration of an action or the process of acting is being emphasized, and the -t form when something happens once, or takes up very little time, or the focus is on the result of a process rather than on the process itself. Consider "spoiled" and "spoilt".

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@Monica, you could simply say, "When the mother came home, dinner was on the table." (That means the food has been cooked and placed on the table, and the diners can just sit down and eat. Is that the meaning you are after?) If you say, "When the mother came home, the dinner was done." that could also mean she missed meal time completely. –  JLG May 9 '12 at 12:51
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“The -t ending is rare in American English”? Really? What pray tell is one expected to use in America in lieu of bent, burnt, crept, dealt, dwelt, felt, girt, kept, lent, meant, pent, rent, sent, slept, spent, swept, went, and wept if your claim is to be taken seriously? "sended"? "feeled"? "meaned"? "creeped"? "goed"? "sleeped"? Surely you just! I very strongly disbelieve your spurious claim. You must be thinking of only the variant forms dreamt, leant, learnt, and spelt, which are nonetheless acceptable albeit less common. –  tchrist May 9 '12 at 13:04
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@tchrist: I guess, you missed the preceding: "With verbs which have two -ed forms, such as spoiled and spoilt, the situation is interesting and not entirely understood." Can you give me another form of past participle for dealt, felt, lent, meant, sent, slept, spent, swept and went?!! Pent and rent are irrelevant. Also, i said "rare", not "never". –  Fr0zenFyr May 9 '12 at 13:26
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-1 for quoting without attribution from David Crystal's blog. You merely changed "I can find no trace of the boilt spelling in standard English. There are no instances in the OED, although there was a great deal of spelling variation in the early centuries of its use. But regional dictionaries..." to "I could not find the word "boilt" in any of the standard English dictionaries. A further research led me to a fact; there was a great deal of spelling variation in the early centuries of its use. Regional dictionaries...". –  jwpat7 May 9 '12 at 16:56
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David Crystal" With verbs which have two -ed forms, such as spoiled and spoilt, the situation is interesting and not entirely understood. The -t ending is rare in American English, certainly. In British English, an aspectual distinction is usually involved." Plagiarism!! Not a single word changed. –  Alex B. May 9 '12 at 17:06

I live in the South (of the United States), and you'll sometimes hear this pronunciation either in the deep hinterlands of our region or as "stereotypical" Southern accent. The only exception to this I can think of is in the phrase "boilt peanuts." Any good Alabamian will start to salivate when they hear a vender yelling "boilt peanuts!" Some Southerners also use Neckkit for Naked. Usually, though, this is in jest and as the joke goes, "Naked" is how you were born, "Neckkit" is what your parents were when they conceived you.

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The form boilt is likely the result of terminal devoicing due to the unstressing and subsequent compression into a single syllable of the sound for boiled. Compare to forms such as dreamt from dreamed. Nonetheless, boilt would likely be considered a rather uncommon form of this usage, and is generally not used in written language.

As for the "the" before "mother", it depends on whether you are using the word as a proper noun. In other words, if you capitalize "Mother", omit the "the"; if you do not capitalize "mother", include the "the".

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