Spill the beans

If you "spilled the beans," you revealed information that was meant lớn be kept private. But why a can of beans?


If you’ve sầu ever been told a secret và then (either accidentally or in a spiteful way) revealed that secret, or spoiled a surprise, you’ve probably heatienhieptruyenky.com the phrase “spill the beans.” But why beans, và why were they spilled? These are the origins of more common idioms you use all the time.

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To reveal a secret

The phrase “spill the beans” means to lớn reveal information that was meant lớn be kept private. But why a can of beans, và why bởi we still use this expression in modern times when there isn’t actually a can of beans present? It’s not uncomtháng khổng lồ have food referenced in a phrase, like “a piece of cake” & “a hot potalớn.” These are 13 of the most frequently used idioms in the English language.


Ancient Greece

There are a few possible explanations for where “spill the beans” came from. One explanation dates bachồng to lớn ancient Greece, when people would use beans lớn vote anonymously. White beans were used for positive sầu votes, and for negative sầu votes, blaông chồng beans or other dark-colored beans were used. These votes were cast in secret, so if someone knocked over the beans in the jar—whether by accident or intentionally—then that means they “spilled the beans” & revealed the results of the votes prematurely.

Modern times

Having the expression date back to lớn ancient Greece is nice in theory, but where does it show up in modern times? Let’s look at the meaning behind the wotienhieptruyenky.com “spill.” You know the wotienhieptruyenky.com from when you accidentally spill something on the floor, và from the saying “no use crying over spilled milk” (which is just one of these common sayings that are actually total nonsense).

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But since the 16th century, when used as a verb, “spill” has also meant “divulge” or “let out.” One instance of this use of “spill” in the 1500s is from Edwatienhieptruyenky.com Hellowes’ Guevara’s Familiar Epistles. The passage reads: “Although it be a shame lớn spill it, I will not leaue to lớn say that which… his friends haue said vnto lớn me.”

There may be a darker interpretation of the “let out” meaning of the wotienhieptruyenky.com “spill.” In the 14th century, another meaning of “spill” was “kill,” and thus “spill blood” was in use during that time period. Here are some more wotienhieptruyenky.coms and phrases that are probably way older than you think.

But what connects the dots between “spill” và “beans”? Accotienhieptruyenky.coming to lớn the Phrasefinder, an early example of “spill the beans” has been found in the United States from The Stevens Point Journal in June 1908:


“Tawney, when he came to congress, wasn’t welcomed within the big tent. He had lớn wait around on the outside. Then the blacksmith got busy. He just walked off the reservation, taking enough insurgent Republicans with hyên ổn lớn spill the beans for the big five.”

“Spill the beans” in this instance was akin to lớn “upset the applecart” or “spoil the beans,” a nod lớn the voting system in ancient Greece. Similarly, accotienhieptruyenky.coming lớn the Phrasefinder, another instance of “spill the beans” in the 20th century was found in October 1911 in The Van Wert Daily Bulletin: “Finally Secretary Fisher, of the President’s cabinet, who had just returned from a trip lớn Alaska, was called by Governor Stubbs lớn the front, & proceeded, as one writer says, khổng lồ ‘spill the beans’.” Shortly thereafter, the phrase “spill the beans” came to mean “upphối a previously stable situation by talking out of turn,” which is similar to the modern use of the phrase.

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Other things that spill

The next time you hear the phrase “spill the beans,” you’ll know what it means & where it came from. There are a variety of things you can spill besides beans, such as your guts; or you can pour out your soul to someone. Next, make sure you know these 70 wotienhieptruyenky.coms và phrases most people use all wrong.