Green’s Dictionary of Slang

spill v.

[fig. uses of SE]

1. to drink.

[UK]M. Leeson Memoirs (1995) III 144: He and I [...] drank and spilled three or four flasks of sparkling Champagne.

2. in the context of falling or knocking.

(a) to cause to fall; thus spilled/spilt adj.

[UK]Swift Polite Conversation 33: I was jolted to Death, and the Road was so bad that I [...] call’d to the Coachman, pray, Friend, don’t spill us.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Spilt. Thrown from a horse, or overturned in a carriage; pray, coachee, don’t spill us.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]D. Roberts Military Adventures of Johnny Newcome II 69: Oh, mind the rascal, Teague, don’t let him spill me.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 31: Spilt – overturned in a carriage.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ G’hals of N.Y. 74: Him and me shall have another meetin’. When it comes, it strikes me somebody’ll be spilled.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 223: SPILT, thrown from a horse or chaise.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 18 Apr. 16/3: Does she ever get ‘spilled’ by a yelping pup? / And who picks her dust-covered highness up? / In fact, does she ever ‘come down a cropper?’ / Of ever do anything else improper?
[UK]Marvel 3 Mar. 4: You’d be dead right enough if I spilled you in the road.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Tight Shoes’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 468: Calvin Colby’s automobiles can spill dolls up against telegraph poles [...] and the dolls are always suing Calvin Colby for breaking their legs.

(b) to knock down in a fight.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 133/2: He knoas moor’n goa in tu t’ ‘slog’ ovir a ‘moll’ an’ git e’s sen spilled.
[Ind]H. Hartigan Stray Leaves (1st ser.) 177: No ‘spilling,’ (that was his phrase for downing a fellow) [...] no shedding of blood.
[US]H.C. Witwer Fighting Blood 99: I’ll spill you in a minute, you big hick.
D. Burley Chicago Defender 1 Sept. 5: I stifled a growing urge to spilt [sic] him one.

(c) to crash.

[US]J.N. Hall High Adventure 57: If you do spill, make it a good one. There hasn’t been a decent smash-up to-day.

(d) (US Und.) to take advantage of, to ‘knock over’.

C.S. Montanye ‘Tight Spot’ in Complete Stories 15 Sept. 🌐 You’ve been having too good a time romping around and spilling the suckers.

(e) (US campus) to fall.

[US]P. Munro Sl. U.

3. (also spill it) in the context of speech.

(a) (UK Und.) to betray a confederate.

[UK]W. Perry London Guide 120: Old whores [...] are remorseless in spilling the man whom they have, perhaps, themselves seduced into the commission of some offence.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 163: Spill (to) to capsize, overturn, or betray a person. One who is suspended at the drop is spilled completely.

(b) (orig. US , also spill out, spill over) to admit, to confess.

[US]C.L. Cullen More Ex-Tank Tales 46: I didn’t spill out the glad tidings that I was next to him.
[US]H.G. van Campen ‘Our Theatrical Boarding House’ in L.A. Herald 10 Dec. 10/5: ‘Learn not to be allus spillin’ private business, Minnie, an’ yuh’ll be jest as pop’lar’.
[US]Van Loan ‘On Account of a Lady’ in Taking the Count 139: If you’re going to spill it in the paper it ain’t my fault.
[US]E. Ferber ‘That’s Marriage’ in One Basket (1947) 48: Just spill it, hon. Just spill it to Daddy. And you’ll feel better.
[US]D. Hammett ‘The Gatewood Caper’ Story Omnibus (1966) 149: The card she beat him with was a threat of spilling everything she knew about him to the newspapers.
[US]C.B. Yorke ‘Snowbound’ in Gangster Stories Oct. n.p.: ‘Want me to — tip your play to the cops?’ ‘Spill and be damned!’.
[US]R. Sale ‘A Nose for News’ in Goulart (1967) 210: I spilled it, the whole damn thing.
[US]R. Chandler High Window 212: Uh-huh. If they get you where you need the blackmail dope, you’ll use it all right. Your old lady will make you. If it’s her neck or yours, she’ll spill.
[US]C. Himes Crazy Kill 114: All right, spill it [...] And it’d better be straight.
[US]T. Southern Blue Movie (1974) 197: His first thought being that Lips had spilled, and they had followed him to the dope connection.
[US]J.W. Dean III Blind Ambition 244: Mitchell nodded kindly and I spilled over even more.
[UK]A-Team Storybook 47: It’ll go better for you if you spill.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 116: Then who’d you lend your 12-gauge pump shotgun to? Boy, you spill on that.
[UK]Guardian Guide 9–15 Oct. 8: Who needed to pick up a book to thrill to a star spilling their secrets?
[US]J. Stahl Pain Killers 345: ‘Come on Doc,’ Zell badgered, ‘Spill. How many?’.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] She also had a big mouth; if she spilled to someone like Curtis, news of my clandestine job would be all over town.
[US]J. Stahl Bad Sex on Speed 41: Tonk wouldn’t talk. Mot even when they buzz-sawed his thumb. Nothing would make him spill.
[UK]A. Wheatle Crongton Knights 14: ‘Don’t spill a drop to Dad’.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson Old Scores [ebook] ‘They’ll spill soon as they’re arrested’.
[US](con. 1963) L. Berney November Road 252: ‘I don’t want to tell tales out of school,’ Barone said. ‘C’mon. Spill’.
[Aus]A. Nette Orphan Road 171: ‘Spill or so help me, I’ll start carving pieces off you’.

(c) (also spill off) to tell, to recount; to inform (against).

[US]N. Davis Northerner 199: But de niggers, dey ain’t spiling none ’bouten hit.
[US]J. Lomax Cowboy Songs 191: But I never spilled a cuss word and I never spilled a squeal.
[US]H. Green ‘Troubles of Two Girls’ in S.F. Chron. 8 June 31/2: Do yuh think the disparity in our ages’d get people to gassin’ an’ mebbe make some of my ex’s spill my past to his trustess.
[US]N.W. Putnam West Broadway 12: ‘All right, Al [...] Spill the story— I hope it’s a good one’.
[UK]Wodehouse Leave it to Psmith (1993) 364: I’m game to spill it.
[US]W.R. Burnett Iron Man 13: If that nigger looks like laying down, I’ll take it up with the Commision, by God. I’ll spill the whole story.
C. Drew ‘Gorilla Grogan’ in Bulletin (Sydney) 26 July 40/4: I’d tipped Snatcher off to spill it round that Gorilla had been saying things about Staggs and it was to be a grudge fight.
[UK]J. Curtis There Ain’t No Justice 205: You’d have probably won a bit of dough, got yourself boozed up and then spilled the whole story.
[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 169: I don’t promise to spill all my ideas.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 204: Then he starts spilling the usual bull, with that smarty grin of his all over his mug.
[US]J.D. Macdonald Slam the Big Door (1961) 63: Now I feel ashamed of spilling my problems.
[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear n.p.: spill off v. to relate all of one’s personal problems.
[Aus]D. Ireland Glass Canoe (1982) 88: Women like to talk. When they spill, they spill.
[UK]P. Bailey Eng. Madam 84: She was bloody wonderful, Dolores was, at spilling a sob story.
[US]M. Myers et al. Wayne’s World [film script] OK, Garth. Spill. What’s happening?
[Aus]G. Disher Crosskill [ebook] ‘I’ll spill you to Internal Affairs’.
[UK]K. Sampson Awaydays ‘You beast! What did you do to my friend!’ [...] ‘Gents don’t spill.’.
[UK]A. Wheatle Dirty South 3: It always fucks me off when these brothers don’t wanna spill the shit about him.
[Aus]J.J. DeCeglie Drawing Dead [ebook] Well what old man. Spill it will ya.
[US](con. 1962) J. Ellroy Enchanters 8: She finked [...] and spilled one of their two girl-stash locations.

4. (US Und.) to release from prison.

[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 418: Spill. To release.

In phrases

spill a line (v.) (also spill a bibful) [line n.1 (2b)]

to concoct a smooth patter with the specific aim of seduction; also ironic use.

[US]W.R. Morse ‘Stanford Expressions’ in AS II:6 278: spill a line of patter—talk.
[UK]G. Ingram Cockney Cavalcade 238: Sister, you sure spilled a bibful!
spill (one) in (v.)

(Aus.) to have a drink.

[Aus]‘A “Push” Story’ in Bulletin (Sydney) 2 Sept. 17/1: ‘C’n y’r spill one in?’ ‘It’s me medicine,’ answered Fummy, as they moved off to meet the nearest thirst hospital.
spill one’s guts (v.) (also open up one’s guts, spill (out) one’s insides) [gut n. (1b)]

1. (orig. US) to confess one’s crimes in full; to tell all.

[US]G. Bronson-Howard God’s Man 379: You just tell us how you found out about this. Smugglers don’t go spilling their insides out to girls.
[US]C. Coe Me – Gangster 78: Throw him out and have him spill his guts about the whole gang?
[US]W.N. Burns One-Way Ride 298: Knowing Zuta for a turncoat who, in gangland parlance, would ‘spill his guts’ if the occasion arose.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[UK]I, Mobster 122: Spilling his guts the way the D.A. told him was part of the deal to spring him.
[Aus]D. Niland Call Me When the Cross Turns Over (1958) 228: When I got back that dope Edna spilt her guts.
[US]T.I. Rubin In the Life 1: I got to open up my guts to you?
[US](con. 1950s) McAleer & Dickson Unit Pride (1981) 34: Look at that sonofobitch spilling out his insides.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 292: The doctor spilled his guts.
[US]G.V. Higgins Digger’s Game (1981) 123: He’s gonna spill his guts.
[US]H. Gould Fort Apache, The Bronx 134: We’ve got to get some people in here to spill their guts.
[Aus]C. Bowles G’DAY 113: If the jury accepts the verbals he’ll end up getting the rough end of the pineapple. He's thinking of spilling his guts and dobbing them both in.
[US]J. Wambaugh Finnegan’s Week 310: I’m more convinced than ever he’ll spill his guts.
[UK]C. Newland Scholar 295: I heard two minor Rads talkin’ about how, ‘the long-haired coon has spilt his guts, no problem’.
OnLine Dict. of Playground Sl. 🌐 spill-yer-guts v. [...] to tell tales, confess.
[Aus]L. Redhead Peepshow [ebook] You don’t fuck on the first date and I don’t spill my guts.
[Aus]C. Hammer Scrublands [ebook] ‘Come out here, ply me with grog, get me to spill me guts’.
[Aus]C. Hammer Opal Country 297: ‘I heard he’s spilling his guts, wants to turn state’s evidence’.

2. (also spill it) to vomit, esp. as the result of drinking.

[US](con. 1943–5) A. Murphy To Hell and Back (1950) 18: ‘Are you sick, soldier?’ [...] ‘Nosir. I’m just spilling my guts for the hell of it.’.
[US]S. King Roadwork in Bachman Books (1995) 348: You just spilled your guts.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 7: spill it – vomit because of alcohol.
G. Kurland My Own Medicine 97: I immediately feel better (especially when I see that I haven’t ‘spilled my guts’) and hope that there will be no more vomiting.
C. Henriksen Diary of Pain 54: I got sick from drinking too much Martini Rossi red, spilled my guts and flaked out.

3. to speak out, forcefully; to lose one’s temper.

[US]J.T. Farrell World I Never Made 318: All right, go ahead! Turn the kitchen into the Stockyards and spill everybody’s guts all over the floor.
[US]W. Brown Monkey On My Back (1954) 62: I bet she spilled her guts about the Puerto Rican Gents.
[Aus]W. Dick Bunch of Ratbags 318: I don’t want yuh to spill yuh guts to anyone about what I’m telling yuh.
[Aus]K. Gilbert Living Black 54: You’ve really got to spill your guts, and let them know just what you think and let them know that you’re not going to stand back.
[US]S. King Stand (1990) 841: He would open his mouth and spill his guts about this place.
[UK]K. Lette Mad Cows 97: Just get me into the Crown Court. I’ll spill my guts to the judge.

4. to divulge intimacies of one’s personal life.

[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Sleeping Dogs’ in Spicy Detective Sept. 🌐 Leneta must have spilled her guts to somebody.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 224: I sat back and waited for him to spill his guts.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 29 Jan. in Proud Highway (1997) 434: The Mailer ethic is to make it very plain beforehand that he is ‘about to spill his guts’.
[US]A. Hoffman Property Of (1978) 21: Anything you want to know. I can spill my guts.
[US](con. 1985–90) P. Bourjois In Search of Respect 125: When I’m under the influence it’s like ‘fuck that.’ Maybe I spill my guts out.
[UK]Guardian Guide 22–28 Jan. 6: So eager are they to spill their guts, it’s as though they’ve just heard that fame is about to go out of fashion.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] I had pretty much spilled my guts in the day spent in the car [...] it made the day go faster.
spill one’s nut (v.) (also spill one’s brains) [nut n.1 (1b)]

to confess, to make an admission.

[US](con. 1918) E.W. Springs Rise and Fall of Carol Banks 18: I can make a drink that will open the lips of the Sphinx [...] If I don’t out that squarehead under the table and make him spill his brains, just leave me on the beach.
spill off (v.)

see sense 3c above.

spill out (v.)

see sense 3b above.

spill someone’s guts (v.) [gut n. (1b)]

(US) to shoot dead.

[US] (ref. to Civil War) J.S. Pennell Hist. of Rome Hanks 181: Jud pulled his musket up and aimed it pint [sic] blank at Lacey’s belly. Lacey, he said, you git away from him or I’ll spill your guts.
spill the beans (v.) (also spill the cherries, …the dice, ...the dirt, ...the dope, ...the gravy, ...the works, ...someone’s tea) [fig. use of SE]

1. to cause a disaster.

[US]Van Loan ‘The Cast-Off’ in Big League (2004) 53: I like Ben Daly [...] but we’ve got to spill the beans for him if we can.
[US]Van Loan ‘Little Sunset’ in Ten-Thousand-Dollar Arm 114: You’ve done it now! [...] You’ve spilled the beans for fair! You gave Bergstrom the excuse he was looking for [...] and now he’s quit!

2. (orig. US) to confess, to let out a secret, to talk unguardedly.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 77: No matter how honest a fellow is someone is bound to spill the beans.
[US]F. Packard Adventures of Jimmie Dale (1918) 191: You’ve blown the whole game—savvy? You’ve spilled the gravy—understand?
[US]B. Hall ‘En l’air!’ 157: [T]he man had been captured and put through the third degree and he ‘spilt the beans’ .
[US]F. Packard White Moll 28: I’m just spilling the dice.
[UK](con. WWI) E. Lynch Somme Mud 207: Some Fritz [...] spilt the beans and told that the attack is going to be put over tomorrow.
[US]R. McAlmon ‘Elsie’ in A Hasty Bunch 853: Well – I suppose I might as well spill the dope now. I was married this afternoon.
[US]Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer 155: Go ahead, spill the dirt.
[US]J. O’Connor Broadway Racketeers 65: He spits up his guts and spills the works.
[UK]E. Glyn Flirt and Flapper 50: Flapper: And who spilled the beans? [...] Who put you wise about the French maid?
[UK]D.L. Sayers Nine Tailors (1984) 227: Go on, Super. Spill the beans.
D. Burley in Chicago Defender 20 June 10: We won’t dig so much dirt [...] What’s the point of spilling the beans on somebody all the time.
[US]Duckett & Staple ‘Double Feature’ in N.Y. Age 28 Aug. 7/2: Since you’ve been away the dirt has just spilt.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl. 48: spilled the beans, spilled the works – confessed, told all.
[UK]Whizzbang Comics 93: Where’s he at now? Spill the beans, Injun man!
[US]R. Chandler Little Sister 112: Spill the dirt to little Spinky, huh?
[US]Green & Laurie Show Biz from Vaude to Video 151: The king’s ghost spills the dirt to the son.
[US]‘Blackie’ Audett Rap Sheet 35: We denied everything, in spite of them telling each of us that the other one had spilled the works and we might as well come clean.
[UK]J. Osborne Look Back in Anger Act II: We knew he’d spill the beans to the Colonel like a shot.
[US]R. Prather Always Leave ’Em Dying 100: He murdered Dixon so there’d be nobody left to spill the beans.
[US]H. Ellison Web of the City (1983) 151: He had spilled the cherries on what had prompted the Cherokee raid that night. Dope.
[UK]R. Hauser Homosexual Society 107: They would be frightened of his ‘spilling the beans’ and involving others if he were to be caught.
[US]J. Heller Good As Gold (1979) 371: ‘How did he find out?’ ‘Someone must have spilled the beans.’.
[US]M. Braun Judas Tree (1983) 111: Find the man and squeeze him, and he’ll spill the beans.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 9: spill someone’s tea – reveal inadvertently that someone is homosexual.
[UK]Guardian G2 7 Oct. 5: Royal butler who spilled the beans.
[Ire]P. Howard Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightdress 110: I actually didn’t think Jessica would spill the beans.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] I’d been worried Alex’s scumbag cousin would spill the beans.
[US]L. Berney Gutshot Straight [ebook] She had to know that Marvin would immediately spill his beans.
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 179: If anyone would spill the beans at the first time of asking it’d be you, you nervous little castrato.
E. Pruitt ‘Houston’ in ThugLit Mar. [ebook] Bunk [...] was probably spilling the beans to anyone and everyone as we spoke.
[US]J. Hannaham Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit 37: He’d [...] spilled the beans about his beef.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

spill skull (n.)

(US) illicitly distilled whiskey.

[US](con. 1861–5) B.I. Wiley Life of Johnny Reb 43: Rebs referred to contraband liquor as ‘bust-head,’ ‘pop-skull,’ ‘old red eye,’ ‘spill skull,’ and ‘rifle knock-knee’.

In phrases