There are 2 main definitions of spill in English:

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spill 1

Syllabification: spill

verb (past and past participle spiltspilt or spilled)

[with object]
1Cause or allow (liquid) to flow over the edge of its container, especially unintentionally: you’ll spill that coffee if you’re not careful figurative azaleas spilled cascades of flowers over the pathways
More example sentences
  • Shara's hand shook as she picked up a cup of coffee, spilling the now-cold liquid on the article she had just concluded.
  • First she spilt the oil, then she broke a container, and finally, she spurted food coloring all over our bags.
  • I place the mugs on a small wooden tray and carry it out to the divan, trying not to spill the hot liquid.
knock over, tip over, upset, overturn
1.1 [no object] (Of liquid) flow over the edge of its container: some of the wine spilled onto the floor figurative light spilled into the room from the landing
More example sentences
  • She held his gaze until the tears spilled over onto her cheeks.
  • Sophie sustained first, second and third degree burns when a bowl of boiling water spilled over her torso and legs.
  • A choked sob caught in her throat, and she brought a hand up to her mouth as her eyes filled with tears that spilled over onto her reddened cheeks.
overflow, flow, pour, run, slop, slosh, splash;
leak, escape
archaic overbrim
1.2(With reference to the contents of something) empty out or be emptied out onto a surface: [no object]: passengers' baggage had spilled out of the hold [with object]: injured cells tend to swell up and burst, spilling their contents
More example sentences
  • The piece then moved and slid over, several empty cans spilled out.
  • She wasn't in the bathroom and her purse had been left behind, sitting on the bedside dresser with its contents spilling out.
  • Looking down, he saw his bookbag lying on its side, the top flap open and its contents spilled out.
1.3 [no object] (Of a number of people) move out of somewhere quickly: students began to spill out of the building
More example sentences
  • As I shuffled at a near run down the hall other students began to spill down that corridor, all trying to dash into their classrooms so as to avoid the same fate that I had a sinking feeling I would be receiving.
  • The bell must have rung because students began spilling out from the school.
  • Students spilled out of the classroom, some of them looking at me oddly.
stream, pour, surge, swarm, flood, throng, crowd
1.4 informal Reveal (confidential information) to someone: he was reluctant to spill her address
More example sentences
  • As Abby kept spilling information it was all making sense.
  • Ariela glanced at Bull, to check if it was all right with him to spill information.
  • The more I talked about myself, the more likely I would be to spill that information.
reveal, disclose, divulge, blurt out, babble, betray, tell
informal blab
1.5Cause (someone) to fall off a horse or bicycle: the horse was wrenched off course, spilling his rider
More example sentences
  • Cody's first round passed through one of Yellow Hair's legs and killed his horse, spilling the warrior to the ground.
1.6 Sailing Let (wind) out of a sail, typically by slackening the sheets.
Example sentences
  • With his constant guidance and criticism, they do their best to fashion sails that are strong yet can spill the wind quickly.
  • Toby brought the dinghy under the cruiser's stern, spilling the wind as he did so.
1.7British (In the context of ball games) drop (the ball).
Example sentences
  • Kildare were presented with an opportunity when city keeper Jimmy Fyfe collected a through ball before inexplicably spilling the ball at the feet of Zeller.
  • A dazzling move started by the winger was also unfortunately ended by the same pair of hands, clumsily spilling the ball whilst attempting to offload.
  • Five minutes later a great tackle from John Cookson resulted in a Blackpool player spilling the ball.


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1A quantity of liquid that has spilled or been spilled: a 25-ton oil spill wipe up spills immediately figurative their shifting spill of lantern-light
More example sentences
  • Clean both stone surfaces daily with a soft cloth using mild dish soap, and wipe off any spills immediately.
  • Wipe up spills in the refrigerator promptly to avoid staining and odors.
  • Following a regular maintenance schedule and wiping up any spills immediately should keep the interior of the car attractive and comfortable.
1.1An instance of a liquid spilling or being spilled: he was absolved from any blame for the oil spill
More example sentences
  • Other refuges have been battered by oil drilling, toxic spills and massive floods, and few have had the political or financial muscle to defend themselves.
  • And, once she had invented a slit valve that allowed liquid to be sucked out but prevented accidental spills, Mrs Haberman thought the hardest part was over.
  • And an oil spill or industrial disaster can wipe out big chunks of the environment.
spillage, leak, leakage, overflow, flood
2A fall from a horse or bicycle: Granddad took a spill while riding the bay mare
More example sentences
  • At one point in the show he told amusingly of how he took a spill in the road, and some of the pages fell out and were scattered.
  • One of the reasons I'm back right now riding after the terrible spill I had was the attachment I have to the horse that did this to me.
  • Take, for instance, the minor scrapes you can get from a mishap in the free-weight room, or from a spill on your bike.
informal header, cropper, nosedive


spill the beans
informal Reveal secret information unintentionally or indiscreetly.
Example sentences
  • In addition to telling us the good, the not-so-good and the surprising news about your relationship with food, you also spilled the beans on your deepest, darkest dieting secrets.
  • The girls scampered outside to play, so Laurie couldn't pump them for information - little children will usually spill the beans without meaning to.
  • I am certainly disappointed that since her death so many people that she trusted have broken that trust and for financial gain have spilt the beans.
reveal all, tell all, give the game away, talk
informal let the cat out of the bag, blab, come clean
spill (someone's) blood
Kill or wound people.
Example sentences
  • ‘Stop spilling our blood so we can stop spilling your blood,’ the message added.
  • He's talking about a man who spilled his blood for the United States of America.
  • They spilt their blood on foreign lands for us so that we can be free of oppression and divisiveness and so that this nation can be united.
spill one's guts
informal Reveal copious information to someone in an uninhibited way.
Example sentences
  • She spills her guts and begs him not to tell Izzy.
  • There's something inherently unglamorous about someone sitting in front of a screen, spilling their guts.
  • But spilling my guts on an Internet blog diary everyday is not something that I'm into.

Phrasal verbs

spill over
(Of a bad situation or strong emotion) reach a point at which it can no longer be controlled or contained: years of frustration spilled over into violence
More example sentences
  • Video footage of her killing has made her into a symbol of the struggle for democracy, which this year spilt over into violence.
  • Most news media have conducted a blackout of the attacks, which some said have spilled over into the streets.
  • Their enthusiasm spilled over the footlights, enthusiasm always does.


Pronunciation: /ˈspilər/
Example sentences
  • As everyone awkwardly shifted their tray tables so she could go to the bathroom and wash up, the spiller grabbed her dinner rolls from her tray.
  • The only excitement we've had is those spillers.
  • ‘How strange and inconsistent are the prejudices of man,’ she exclaims, ‘here is a warrior - a spiller of human life by profession… yet he shudders at the thought of adding one murder more to the many already committed ’.


Old English spillan 'kill, destroy, waste, shed (blood)'; of unknown origin.

  • Old English spillan meant ‘kill, destroy’, a sense that was common until about 1600, and ‘shed (blood)’. The sense ‘allow liquid to pour out or over’ arose from the latter in late Middle English.

Words that rhyme with spill

bill, Brazil, brill, Camille, chill, cookchill, dill, distil (US distill), downhill, drill, Edgehill, Estoril, fill, freewill, frill, fulfil (US fulfill), Gill, goodwill, grill, grille, hill, ill, instil, kill, krill, mil, mill, nil, Phil, pill, quadrille, quill, rill, Seville, shill, shrill, sill, skill, spadille, squill, still, stock-still, swill, thill, thrill, till, trill, twill, until, uphill, will
Definition of spill in:
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There are 2 main definitions of spill in English:

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spill 2 Syllabification: spill


A thin strip of wood or paper used for lighting a fire, candle, pipe, etc.
Example sentences
  • In front of us stood a low oaken table on which there was more mead and wine, and, appropriately for the room, a collection of long clay pipes, loose tobacco and spills.


Middle English (in the sense 'sharp fragment of wood'): obscurely related to spile. The current sense dates from the early 19th century.

  • Old English spillan meant ‘kill, destroy’, a sense that was common until about 1600, and ‘shed (blood)’. The sense ‘allow liquid to pour out or over’ arose from the latter in late Middle English.

Definition of spill in:
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