- to cause or allow to run or fall from a container, especially accidentally or wastefully: to spill a bag of marbles; to spill milk.
- to shed (blood), as in killing or wounding.
- to scatter: to spill papers all over everything.
- to let the wind out of (a sail).
- to lose (wind) from a sail.
- to cause to fall from a horse, vehicle, or the like: His horse spilled him.
- Informal. to divulge, disclose, or tell: Don't spill the secret.
- (of a liquid, loose particles, etc.) to run or escape from a container, especially by accident or in careless handling.
- a spilling, as of liquid.
- a quantity spilled.
- the mark made by something spilled.
- a spillway.
- Also called spill light. superfluous or useless light rays, as from theatrical or photographic lighting units.
- Theater. an area of a stage illuminated by spill light.
- a throw or fall from a horse, vehicle, or the like: She broke her arm in a spill.
Origin of spill1
- a splinter.
- a slender piece of wood or of twisted paper, for lighting candles, lamps, etc.
- a peg made of metal.
- a small pin for stopping a cask; spile.
- Mining. forepole.
Origin of spill2
Related Words for spillsprinkle, stream, squirt, flow, pour, dribble, spray, splash, discharge, overflow, scatter, empty, blow, shed, run, disgorge, splatter, upset, drip, lose
Examples from the Web for spill
Contemporary Examples of spill
A new paper outlines five steps required for a virus to ‘spill over’ from bats to humans.Bats’ Link to Ebola Finally Solved
November 12, 2014
Since the spill, the number of unemployed residents in Louisiana and Alabama has only increased.Deepwater Horizon: Life Drowning in Oil
November 2, 2014
Bewildered adolescents, many of them accompanied by equally confused guardians, spill out into the hallway.The Border Kid Crisis Hits the Courts
September 19, 2014
Nor is it the way the gunman manages not to spill a drop of the drink in his other hand as he commits all this savagery.Bronx Gunman Shot His Friend, Didn’t Spill His Drink
August 5, 2014
Zaun, who was starting to look like the favorite, took the stage to cheers and vowed “I will spill my blood to save the unborn.”The Bizarro World Of Iowa’s GOP Convention
June 23, 2014
Historical Examples of spill
It simply must be done to preserve the equilibrium and avoid a spill.Flying Machines
W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell
Spill it all out, I say, an' make the world smell as sweet as honey.Tiverton Tales
But I think they'll a' gang daft, and spill bluid like wather!'The Life And Adventures Of Nicholas Nickleby
“Guess we could spill some of it, sergeant,” he declared meaningly.The Law-Breakers
One sharp curve in the track and that load will spill all over the place.Sure Pop and the Safety Scouts
Roy Rutherford Bailey
- (when intr, usually foll by from, out of, etc) to fall or cause to fall from or as from a container, esp unintentionally
- to disgorge (contents, occupants, etc) or (of contents, occupants, etc) to be disgorgedthe car spilt its passengers onto the road; the crowd spilt out of the theatre
- to shed (blood)
- Also: spill the beans informal to disclose something confidential
- nautical to let (wind) escape from a sail or (of the wind) to escape from a sail
- informal a fall or tumble
- short for spillway
- a spilling of liquid, etc, or the amount spilt
- Australian the declaring of several political jobs vacant when one higher up becomes sothe Prime Minister's resignation could mean a Cabinet spill
Word Origin for spill
- a splinter of wood or strip of twisted paper with which pipes, fires, etc, are lit
- a small peg or rod made of metal
Word Origin for spill
Old English spillan "destroy, kill," variant of spildan, from Proto-Germanic *spelthijanan (cf. Old High German spildan "to spill," Old Saxon spildian, Old Norse spilla "to destroy," Middle Dutch spillen "to waste"), from PIE *spel- "to split, break off" (cf. Middle Dutch spalden, Old High German spaltan "to split;" for further cognates, see spoil). Related: Spilled; spilling.
Sense of "let (liquid) fall or run out" developed mid-14c. from use of the word in reference to shedding blood (early 12c.). Intransitive sense is from 1650s. Spill the beans recorded by 1910 in a sense of "spoil the situation;" to cry for spilt milk (usually with negative) is attested from 1738.
1845, originally "a throw from a horse," from spill (v.).
In addition to the idiom beginning with spill
- spill the beans
- shed (spill) blood
- take a spill