Swapped "tease" and "spoil"

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Thu Jun 20 19:04:46 UTC 2013

I've begun noticing  uses of transitive "tease" and "spoil" in
entertainment contexts in which the patient is not the event participant
I'm expecting. For example, Iexpect "tease" to have viewers, readers, or
other consumers fill the patient role, with the movie, book, videogame,
etc. as an oblique object, as in "They teased the audience with a scene
from the upcoming release." However, you can find examples like these now:

    _The Avengers_ was teased at the end of _Captain America_.

Similarly, I expect the patient of "spoil" to be the themovie, book,
video game, etc., and the consumer to be an oblique object: "You spoiled
the ending for me!" But now you can find sentences like:

    I personally can't stand spoilers. ... There are entire websites
    that I have stopped visiting because they unexpectedly *spoiled* me
    one too many times.

My earliest datings for each use:

tease, May 1995

    "The Informer" *teased* the return of a "mystery man" absent from
    the WWF for roughly a decade.... He also *teased* the appearance of
    a "familiar face" who would be making his WWF debut.... (May 1995)

spoil, April 1996

    gracious.....this is one of best episodes I ever  seen. Even when I
    *got spoiled*, I stilled loved it. Wow... (April 1996)**


In addition, I found an antedating for advertising-related "teaser" (OED

    Later, on November 17th, after much advertising of a "teaser" kind,
    the Club was confronted with the whole Toledo Advertising Club as
    our entertainer.
    /The Rotarian, /January 1917, p. 80.

I've written about this at Visual Thesaurus(by


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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