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.
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- "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.
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