verb (used with object), spilled or spilt, spill·ing.

verb (used without object), spilled or spilt, spill·ing.

(of a liquid, loose particles, etc.) to run or escape from a container, especially by accident or in careless handling.


Nearby words

  1. spikenard,
  2. spiker,
  3. spiky,
  4. spile,
  5. spiling,
  6. spill over,
  7. spill the beans,
  8. spillage,
  9. spillane,
  10. spillikin


    spill the beans. bean(def 11).
    spill/toss one's cookies. cookie(def 7).

Origin of spill

before 950; 1920–25 for def 6; Middle English spillen to kill, destroy, shed (blood), Old English spillan to kill; cognate with Middle High German, Middle Dutch spillen; akin to spoil

Related formsspill·a·ble, adjective, nounnon·spill·a·ble, adjectiveun·spilled, adjective




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 spill

1250–1300; Middle English spille < ?

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for spill

British Dictionary definitions for spill



verb spills, spilling, spilt or spilled (mainly tr)

(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
Derived Formsspiller, noun

Word Origin for spill

Old English spillan to destroy; related to spildan, Old High German spaltan to split; see spoil


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

C13: of Germanic origin; compare Old High German spilla, Middle Dutch spile stake

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for spill
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with spill


In addition to the idiom beginning with spill

  • spill the beans

also see:

  • shed (spill) blood
  • take a spill
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.