[ spil ]
See synonyms for: spillspilledspillingspilt on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object),spilled or spilt, spill·ing.
  1. to cause or allow to run or fall from a container, especially accidentally or wastefully: to spill a bag of marbles; to spill milk.

  2. to shed (blood), as in killing or wounding.

  1. to scatter: to spill papers all over everything.

  2. Nautical.

    • to let the wind out of (a sail).

    • to lose (wind) from a sail.

  3. to cause to fall from a horse, vehicle, or the like: His horse spilled him.

  4. Informal. to divulge, disclose, or tell: Don't spill the secret.

verb (used without object),spilled or spilt, spill·ing.
  1. (of a liquid, loose particles, etc.) to run or escape from a container, especially by accident or in careless handling.

  1. a spilling, as of liquid.

  2. a quantity spilled.

  1. the mark made by something spilled.

  2. Also called spill light [spil-lahyt] /ˈspɪl ˌlaɪt/ . superfluous or useless light rays, as from theatrical or photographic lighting units.

  3. Theater. an area of a stage illuminated by spill light.

  4. a throw or fall from a horse, vehicle, or the like: She broke her arm in a spill.

Idioms about spill

  1. spill the beans. bean (def. 11).

  2. spill / toss one's cookies. cookie (def. 8).

  1. spill one's guts. Slang. gut (def. 14).

Origin of spill

First recorded 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

Other words from spill

  • spill·a·ble, adjective, noun
  • non·spill·a·ble, adjective
  • un·spilled, adjective

Words Nearby spill

Other definitions for spill (2 of 2)

[ spil ]

  1. a splinter.

  2. a slender piece of wood or of twisted paper, for lighting candles, lamps, etc.

  1. a peg made of metal.

  2. a small pin for stopping a cask; spile.

  3. Mining. forepole.

Origin of spill

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English spille, spil(e); of uncertain origin

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use spill in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for spill (1 of 2)


/ (spɪl) /

verbspills, spilling, spilt or spilled (mainly tr)
  1. (when intr, usually foll by from, out of, etc) to fall or cause to fall from or as from a container, esp unintentionally

  2. to disgorge (contents, occupants, etc) or (of contents, occupants, etc) to be disgorged: the car spilt its passengers onto the road; the crowd spilt out of the theatre

  1. to shed (blood)

  2. Also: spill the beans informal to disclose something confidential

  3. nautical to let (wind) escape from a sail or (of the wind) to escape from a sail

  1. informal a fall or tumble

  2. short for spillway

  1. a spilling of liquid, etc, or the amount spilt

  2. Australian the declaring of several political jobs vacant when one higher up becomes so: the Prime Minister's resignation could mean a Cabinet spill

Origin of spill

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

Derived forms of spill

  • spiller, noun

British Dictionary definitions for spill (2 of 2)


/ (spɪl) /

  1. a splinter of wood or strip of twisted paper with which pipes, fires, etc, are lit

  2. a small peg or rod made of metal

Origin of 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

Other 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.