spill (v.)

Old English spillan "destroy, mutilate, kill," also in late Old English "to waste," variant of spildan "destroy," from Proto-Germanic *spilthjan (source also of Old High German spildan "to spill," Old Saxon spildian "destroy, kill," Old Norse spilla "to destroy," Danish spilde "lose, spill, waste," Middle Dutch spillen "to waste, spend"), from a probable PIE root *spel- (1) "to split, break off" (source also of Middle Dutch spalden, Old High German spaltan "to split;" Greek aspalon "skin, hide," spolas "flayed skin;" Latin spolium "skin, hide;" Lithuanian spaliai "shives of flax;" Old Church Slavonic rasplatiti "to cleave, split;" Middle Low German spalden, Old High German spaltan "to split;" Sanskrit sphatayati "splits").

Sense of "let (liquid) fall or run out" developed mid-14c. from use of the word in reference to shedding blood (early 14c.). Intransitive sense "to run out and become wasted" is from 1650s. Spill the beans recorded by 1910 in a sense of "spoil the situation;" 1919 as "reveal a secret." To cry for spilt milk (usually with negative) is attested from 1738. Related: Spilled; spilt; spilling.

spill (n.)

1845, originally "a throw or fall from a horse," from spill (v.). Meaning "the spilling of a liquid, amount of spilled stuff" is from 1848.

updated on April 22, 2019

Definitions of spill from WordNet
spill (v.)
cause or allow (a liquid substance) to run or flow from a container;
spill the milk
Synonyms: slop / splatter
spill (v.)
flow, run or fall out and become lost;
The wine spilled onto the table
The milk spilled across the floor
Synonyms: run out
spill (v.)
cause or allow (a solid substance) to flow or run out or over;
spill the beans all over the table
Synonyms: shed / disgorge
spill (v.)
pour out in drops or small quantities or as if in drops or small quantities;
spill blood
Synonyms: shed / pour forth
spill (v.)
reveal information;
The former employee spilled all the details
Synonyms: talk
spill (v.)
reduce the pressure of wind on (a sail);
spill (n.)
liquid that is spilled;
clean up the spills
spill (n.)
a channel that carries excess water over or around a dam or other obstruction;
Synonyms: spillway / wasteweir
spill (n.)
the act of allowing a fluid to escape;
Synonyms: spillage / release
spill (n.)
a sudden drop from an upright position;
he had a nasty spill on the ice
Synonyms: tumble / fall
From, not affiliated with etymonline.