Main definitions of spill in English

: spill1spill2

spill1

verb

[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’
    • ‘I move to the far side of the porch and almost fall trying pull myself up onto the railing, spilling my drink.’
    • ‘I spilled the water on the chair and glared furiously at Will in response.’
    • ‘Hey, remember, when we went into Granny's study and accidentally spilt her ink all over the carpet?’
    • ‘Casey slid the beer in front of him, careful not to spill a drop.’
    • ‘John spills water on a photo slide he is examining, the red color appearing as spilled blood.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She swallowed the pills down, but nearly spilled the water when she set it down on the table.’
    • ‘And he did so without spilling a single drop of champagne on his silver tray.’
    • ‘She nearly spilled the water in his lap as she thrust the two objects at him.’
    • ‘John nearly spilled his water trying to set the glass down to take a better look at the picture.’
    • ‘He picks it up and passes it to her being careful not to spill a drop.’
    • ‘A bottle of chemical fertilizer had been knocked askew, spilling the liquid in a pool on the concrete floor.’
    • ‘One weekend she had come in with his water and had spilled his coffee.’
    • ‘I fell asleep soon enough and of course spilled my soda all over the carpet.’
    • ‘He doesn't mind all of the ink being spilt on him but don't try and get him to read the stuff.’
    • ‘I place the mugs on a small wooden tray and carry it out to the divan, trying not to spill the hot liquid.’
    • ‘He yanked the glass to his face, spilling the water over the front of him.’
    • ‘I took a drink but she wasn't as careful as she thought and spilled some water down my chest.’
    • ‘It seemed to work, because his head jerked upward and he spilt some water on the ground.’
    knock over, tip over, upset, overturn
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no 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’
      • ‘Then she stepped forward, and hugged him while the tears spilled over.’
      • ‘A little bit of water had spilled onto the tile floor around the tub.’
      • ‘Sophie sustained first, second and third degree burns when a bowl of boiling water spilled over her torso and legs.’
      • ‘The putrid liquid spilled over the ground beneath the table, leaving the stench to rise up through the cracks.’
      • ‘The tears spilled over and started to run down her cheeks.’
      • ‘As he did so light spilled over her lovely face suddenly and he was dumbstruck.’
      • ‘His arms lay limp across his bed as his contained tears spilled over the pillow.’
      • ‘She held his gaze until the tears spilled over onto her cheeks.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Crocodile tears spilled over onto Millicent's cheeks and she stood with downcast eyes.’
      • ‘As the freezing water spilled over her she could feel the goosebumps rise on her skin.’
      • ‘The door to the warehouse was flung open and light spilled over Stephanie's face.’
      • ‘Hot liquid spilled over the top of the baking pan and on her hand.’
      • ‘Antonio pressed further and the red liquid spilled onto her shirt.’
      • ‘The tears spilled over my eyelids and flowed down my face.’
      • ‘The blood droplets spilled onto the floor, marking my drunken journey.’
      • ‘Her hand shook the glass and water spilled onto the tablecloth.’
      • ‘Someone dropped his glass of wine and the red liquid spilt across the marble floor.’
      • ‘The test tube broke, and a flush of liquid spilled over onto Marsha.’
      • ‘Tears spilled over those beautiful cheeks as she started sniffling.’
      overflow, flow, pour, run, slop, slosh, splash, splatter
      View synonyms
    2. 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’
      • ‘I didn't answer because then the meeting ended and my backpack broke and the contents spilled out onto the grass and I had to pick up all the papers.’
      • ‘Boxes were everywhere, some open with their contents spilling out, while others had been shoved to the side, to be sorted through later.’
      • ‘The container was upside down, so when the sides opened, the contents spilled out onto the carpet at the engineer's feet.’
      • ‘The envelope was protruding from his pocket, the contents spilling out.’
      • ‘The blue sack landed forcefully, spilling out most of its contents.’
      • ‘As I pulled the wrecked chest away from the bed it fell apart and the contents spilled out on the floor.’
      • ‘He dropped his box of comics at his feet and the contents spilled out onto the concrete tarmac.’
      • ‘Her bag of groceries slipped from her hands, falling to the street below, its contents spilling out at her feet.’
      • ‘Her books spilled out of her arms and onto the warm ground.’
      • ‘Costumes spilled out of crates and both men and women wore masks of make-up.’
      • ‘Boxes are scattered all over the floor, contents spilling out.’
      • ‘Luckily for him, the soft food hadn't spilled out of the bowls.’
      • ‘The contents spilled out on the chair, but Keiko couldn't care less.’
      • ‘The contents of her backpack spilled out, many items breaking with a resounding crash as a result.’
      • ‘Walking through the tiny hallway, the top box toppled over, the entire contents spilling out.’
      • ‘She wasn't in the bathroom and her purse had been left behind, sitting on the bedside dresser with its contents spilling out.’
      • ‘It was a white cardboard packing box that wasn't taped together at the top, and when I turned it over, the contents spilled out.’
      • ‘The crib was on its side and the contents were almost all spilled out by the force.’
      • ‘Looking down, he saw his bookbag lying on its side, the top flap open and its contents spilled out.’
      • ‘The piece then moved and slid over, several empty cans spilled out.’
    3. 1.3no object (of a number of people) move out of somewhere quickly.
      ‘students began to spill out of the building’
      • ‘Then we spilled out into the corridor, babbling incoherently and the experience that none of us would ever forget came to an end.’
      • ‘As everyone spilled out of the studio and into the corridor, Adele pushed her way through and approached Harry Eastman's door.’
      • ‘The bell must have rung because students began spilling out from the school.’
      • ‘A serpentine queue for check-in had spilled out in the street from the vast hall at five in the morning.’
      • ‘In a frenzied rush of limbs, they spilled out of the car.’
      • ‘Patrons spilled out into the street and smiles were everywhere.’
      • ‘One sunny afternoon as I sat nursing a chilled glass of Chianti on the square, a wedding party spilled out from an old church, a blur of confetti and colour.’
      • ‘Students spilled out of the classroom, some of them looking at me oddly.’
      • ‘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 funeral was held at the VA Center chapel and the standing-room-only crowd spilled out into the street.’
      • ‘The crowd spilled out over the Park, and the police were drowned out by the screaming.’
      • ‘I pulled away from him eventually as the bell rang again, and people began spilling outside for recess.’
      • ‘And as the crowds spilled out of Mount Juliet last night, the tills were still ringing long and loud.’
      • ‘She kept losing track of what she was talking about as people spilled out of the elevators and said who they'd lost and great washes of sadness and empathy passed over her face.’
      stream, pour, surge, swarm, flood, throng, crowd, mill
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4informal Reveal (confidential information) to someone.
      ‘he was reluctant to spill her address’
      • ‘I had no reason to not just come out with it and spill the news like I wanted to, but I just couldn't.’
      • ‘If a company blogger spills financial information, it can get you in hot water with regulators.’
      • ‘It took only two cosmopolitans and an apple martini before you spilled every detail of my enemies' presence.’
      • ‘In their testimony, some are reportedly spilling their confidential sources' secrets.’
      • ‘The more I talked about myself, the more likely I would be to spill that information.’
      • ‘That night Billy goes home and almost spills the news to his family about the dogs.’
      • ‘The rumor mill had kicked into high gear until Calvin had broken down and spilled the news.’
      • ‘As Abby kept spilling information it was all making sense.’
      • ‘He knew it was rather early in the day to be smoking it, but he needed to relax before he spilled the big news to everyone.’
      • ‘Okay, so this is where I spill the dirty secret, and reveal exactly why I'm so bitter.’
      • ‘He just does not want to betray his friend by spilling out his secrets, so to avoid further conversation, he just turned away and went upstairs again.’
      • ‘But what if one of them spills the news to his mother?’
      • ‘Ice nodded and spilled any and all information the man asked for.’
      • ‘Chad watched Amy from across the room as Odette spilled the news about Kenny's death.’
      • ‘They crowded around me and watched me expectantly, as if I would spill my darkest, most revealing secrets.’
      • ‘Ariela glanced at Bull, to check if it was all right with him to spill information.’
      • ‘At once, she was spilling out every detail of her accident.’
      • ‘When he saw that he wasn't going anywhere without spilling the details, he sighed.’
      • ‘When we got her into her house she started spilling out everything, from what colour underwear she was wearing to why she had taken the drugs.’
      • ‘We were once more back at the apartment with Kane spilling the details of what had happened since my absence.’
      reveal, disclose, divulge, let out, leak, blurt out, babble, betray, make known, tell
      View synonyms
    5. 1.5 Cause (someone) to fall off a horse or bicycle.
      ‘the horse was wrenched off course, spilling his rider’
      • ‘Cody's first round passed through one of Yellow Hair's legs and killed his horse, spilling the warrior to the ground.’
      unseat, throw, dislodge, unhorse
      View synonyms
    6. 1.6Sailing Let (wind) out of a sail, typically by slackening the sheets.
      • ‘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.’
    7. 1.7British (in the context of ball games) drop (the ball).
      • ‘Five minutes later a great tackle from John Cookson resulted in a Blackpool player spilling the ball.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Gareth Kelly was ready to pounce in case Heraghty spilled the ball.’
      • ‘Robbie Casey hurled a high ball into the middle, the Crusaders' keeper John Connelly came for the ball but spilled it.’
      • ‘A dreadful blunder from Paul Sackey presented the visitors with a series of five metre scrums that ended when Corry opted to pick and go - only to spill the ball forward as the rain began to pour down.’
      • ‘Yet, eight minutes into the game on Sunday and the prospects of that seemed unlikely after Cooper spilled the ball.’
      • ‘But as Fennelly tackled him the ball was spilled and the Portlaoise player hacked it ahead.’
      • ‘York penned Horden back from the start and should have scored in the fifth minute but No 8 Andy Kay spilled the ball with the line in sight.’
      • ‘A Robbie Griffin shot should have been easily collected by the goalkeeper but he spilled the ball and Darren McKenna was in to accept the gift.’
      • ‘In the opening quarter they spilled ball after ball, kicked away possession and missed a succession of scoring chances, as they seemed to have the big day jitters.’
      • ‘Ian Dwyer, Padraig Brennan, Bobby Baggott and Wesley Whitten raided enthusiastically late on in the half but spilled the ball.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Their passing was sloppy, possession was given away too easily and balls were either spilled or over carried in promising attacks.’
      • ‘This mistake in preparation was extremely obvious on Sunday afternoon when the Warriors spilled the ball countless times when they were hot on attack.’
      • ‘Too many times last Saturday ball was spilled in the tackle.’
      • ‘A superb move between Kelly and Meade should have produced a try only for the ball to be spilled in sight of the line.’
      • ‘Aidan Doyle and Pat Cooper were putting in some really good tackles for Port and this led Mullingar to spill the ball on a number of occasions.’

noun

  • 1A quantity of liquid that has spilled or been spilled.

    ‘wipe up spills immediately’
    ‘a 25-ton oil spill’
    figurative ‘their shifting spill of lantern-light’
    • ‘Wipe up the spill quickly and rub the spot vigorously with your palm or with a cloth dipped in a small amount of furniture polish.’
    • ‘It is easily softened by solvents and grease, so wipe up spills promptly and do not use solvents or solvent-based polishes on it.’
    • ‘Caroline took a piece of rag they reserved to wipe off any spills.’
    • ‘Check your work carefully, inspecting for missed spots, spills, drips, and other problems.’
    • ‘Many spills can introduce oils into your carpet which attract dirt and help lead to a dingy looking carpet.’
    • ‘Wipe up any spills with a clean, wet cloth when the cooktop is cool.’
    • ‘Wipe up any spills promptly with a damp soft cloth or paper towel.’
    • ‘‘I'll help clean it up,’ he said as he grabbed my shirt, wiping away at the spill on my chest.’
    • ‘The bartender was doing the usual, polishing glasses and wiping the spills off the counter.’
    • ‘Clean both stone surfaces daily with a soft cloth using mild dish soap, and wipe off any spills immediately.’
    • ‘The rock keeps the area clean and allows any small spills to evaporate rather than be absorbed into the soil.’
    • ‘Use caution in applying it, and wipe up spills with a soapy detergent.’
    • ‘Wipe up spills in the refrigerator promptly to avoid staining and odors.’
    • ‘Heavy spills can be wiped off with a damp cloth when the burner is completely cold.’
    • ‘Fill portable heaters outdoors, wipe up spills, and do not use old or contaminated fuel.’
    • ‘For superficial spills simply wipe away excess with a clean warm absorbent cloth and air to dry.’
    • ‘Following a regular maintenance schedule and wiping up any spills immediately should keep the interior of the car attractive and comfortable.’
    • ‘I am concerned about crumbs or spills falling through the gaps.’
    • ‘Wipe up spills at once to prevent spots that require refinishing.’
    • ‘Wipe up spills promptly to avoid excessive smoke during the cleaning cycle.’
    1. 1.1 An instance of a liquid spilling or being spilled.
      ‘he was absolved from any blame for the oil spill’
      • ‘These exposures are usually the result of accidents, spills, or equipment failure.’
      • ‘Although pink salmon and herring catches peaked in the two years immediately following the spill, the two fisheries have since collapsed.’
      • ‘And an oil spill or industrial disaster can wipe out big chunks of the environment.’
      • ‘Cooking fuel should be stored upright and away from your food, in case of an accidental spill.’
      • ‘No contingency plans for oil spills have been made.’
      • ‘This information is crucial to the safety of the pharmacy staff and to their customers if a spill or other accident occurs.’
      • ‘Pack a container of wet wipes in the car for accidental spills.’
      • ‘Authorities say a hazardous spill has been contained following a train collision just south of Chicago.’
      • ‘Each facility must develop procedures for handling accidents and chemical spills.’
      • ‘We should view the Prestige oil spill not as a fluke or one-time accident.’
      • ‘In the middle of last month the exit road to the M50 was sealed off following a spill following a two-vehicle collision.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Any of these mechanical methods for cleanup can be used immediately after a spill without prior approval from government officials.’
      • ‘Then there is the persistent threat of an oil spill.’
      • ‘As chemicals are dumped into the sea and oil spills occur, the turtles are fighting a losing battle.’
      • ‘Nobody came forward to say the spill had been an accident, so the assumption must be that it was a purposeful dumping, and one that the perpetrators got away with.’
      • ‘Many human deaths have resulted from explosions or toxic cleaning chemicals in oil spills.’
      • ‘There might have been fewer oil tankers out there and fewer oil spills.’
      • ‘The act also required that, by 2015, all tankers operating in U.S. waters be double-hulled to protect against spills.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2A fall from a horse or bicycle.

    ‘Granddad took a spill while riding the bay mare’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Take, for instance, the minor scrapes you can get from a mishap in the free-weight room, or from a spill on your bike.’
    • ‘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.’
    fall, tumble, accident
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • spill the beans

    • informal Reveal secret information unintentionally or indiscreetly.

      • ‘I am surprised that the affair happened, but I can't in all honesty be astonished that she has finally spilled the beans.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I've spilled the beans and probably deserve to be cast into the outer darkness for offending the code concerning ‘journalistic ethics’.’
      • ‘The girls scampered outside to play, so Laurie couldn't pump them for information - little children will usually spill the beans without meaning to.’
      • ‘Eleven Italian masters were tracked down in Belgium after a doctor from Milan spilt the beans on a Belgian art dealer.’
      • ‘I went to the agency and spilled the beans - I was very confused about everything.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's not only the British insiders who're spilling the beans.’
      • ‘Webb spilled the beans to Taylor and Ferguson never forgave him.’
      • ‘So why are so many politicians so prickly when one of their number spills the beans on another?’
      reveal everything, tell all, give the game away, talk
      View synonyms
  • spill (someone's) blood

    • Kill or wound people.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘All of you shall submit unquestioningly to my dominion, and I shall spill your blood if need be!’
      • ‘But I don't think they rejoice over spilling our blood nearly as much as they rejoice over the fear they put in our hearts.’
      • ‘This woman would have shot me down without any qualms, why should I feel sorry for spilling her blood?’
      • ‘If you cannot give that promise, and will not release yourself from your vow, I have no choice but to spill your blood out upon the sand.’
      • ‘Spill it, son, before I spill your blood for your crimes.’
      • ‘These people murdered the prophets; do you think they will stop spilling our blood?’
      • ‘For the first time since they saw me, they feared me more than they wanted to spill my blood.’
  • spill one's guts

    • informal Reveal copious information to someone in an uninhibited way.

      • ‘I was horrifically guilt-stricken and tempted to call his wife and spill my guts but I never did.’
      • ‘She spills her guts and begs him not to tell Izzy.’
      • ‘Stephenson sat on the sink in his dressing-room while he spilled his guts about his marriage problems.’
      • ‘I can rant or cry or laugh or be stupid or spill my guts, and she understands.’
      • ‘If you don't wind up spilling your guts, at least sound her out on the possibility of visiting her.’
      • ‘There's something about the Internet that encourages us to spill our guts, often in rather outrageous ways.’
      • ‘Well, it's not like he spills his guts to me or anything.’
      • ‘There's something inherently unglamorous about someone sitting in front of a screen, spilling their guts.’
      • ‘If she feels the urge to spill her guts again, recommend that she speak to one of her friends instead.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘The benefits achieved in pensions efficiency are spilling over into other areas, notably the much maligned endowment.’
      • ‘She lost her job shortly afterwards, as the virtual anger spilled over into real life.’
      • ‘In addition, the aftermath of episodes of bullying may spill over to affect other service users in the ward community.’
      • ‘This new form of storytelling has even spilled over into journalism.’
      • ‘Video footage of her killing has made her into a symbol of the struggle for democracy, which this year spilt over into violence.’
      • ‘Their enthusiasm spilled over the footlights, enthusiasm always does.’
      • ‘Are fears that ethnic strife may spill over to the neighbors exaggerated?’
      • ‘This conviction spilled over into all areas of life.’
      • ‘Most news media have conducted a blackout of the attacks, which some said have spilled over into the streets.’
      • ‘Anger spilled over at the Scouts Association's annual general meeting last week concerning a proposed rise in annual fees over the next two years.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

spill

/spil//spɪl/

Main definitions of spill in English

: spill1spill2

spill2

noun

  • A thin strip of wood or paper used for lighting a fire, candle, pipe, etc.

    • ‘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.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

spill

/spil//spɪl/