If you leave the food for a long time out of refrigerator, something happens to the food and makes it smelly and inedible.

What is that state of the food called in English?

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  • 3
    "Spoiled" (as submitted by SamuelVimes) is very common. We also say "went bad", a lot. If you want to be more colorful, "putrefied" is one of my favorites. – Oldbag Jun 17 '15 at 12:28

Perhaps you can say that the food has spoiled

According to Collins



Word forms: spoils, spoiling, spoilt, spoiled

3) (intransitive) (of perishable substances) to become unfit for consumption or use ⇒ "the fruit must be eaten before it spoils"

  • 2
    Just to add - a more colloquial expression (at least in BRE) would be "Gone off." – Jascol Jun 17 '15 at 11:40
  • I would say spoiled requires an outward change in appearance or smell; it is not used with every kind of food. Meat or milk can spoil, as can fruits and vegetables, but I can't think of anyone who says that eggs spoil, as their rottenness is only comprehended once they are cracked. Neither does bread spoil in my experience, as it does not generally putrefy or start to smell bad. But you can say of all of these that they turn or go bad. – choster Jun 17 '15 at 21:17
  • @choster I have to say that (in this case) I disagree with what you say. In my opinion, if the food is no longer fit for consumption, if it is no longer fresh, then it has spoiled, regardless of its external appearance. For example, some strains of botulism will not change the odour, colour or taste of the food they colonize, yet that food is no longer safe for consumption. And, while it is true that eggs may rot and that bread may go stale or mouldy (and I agree that those terms are correct), in the end, in all of those cases the food has spoiled (at least, that is my opinion). – SamuelVimes Jun 18 '15 at 9:00
  • @choster As a side note, I have heard the term 'spoil' before when talking about eggs, milk or bread and, in fact, a quick search with google turns out many examples – SamuelVimes Jun 18 '15 at 9:01

maybe also rotten... a full box of rotten fruit


You can use the adjective bad. The following is taken from the Longman English Dictionary Online:


9) food that is bad is not safe to eat because it has decayed:

 - bad fish

 - This milk has gone bad.

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