- 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
- (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