Idiom: Spill the beans

Illustration of a woman with a surprised expression and hand over her mouth as coffee beans spill out from a tipped-over burlap bag. Idiom: 'Spill the Beans: To reveal a secret. Text reads: "No one knew by boss was pregnant until I accidentally spilled the beans and said she was getting an ultrasound this morning."

Idiom:  Spill the beans (meaning)

Spill the beans: To tell someone a secret or confidential information.


This information can be revealed either accidentally or intentionally.

Origin:  The original of this idiomatic expression is not certain. Some believe it came from an ancient Greek voting system where black and white beans were used to cast votes. If someone knocked over the jar of beans by mistake, everyone would be able to see who they voted for.

Usage: This is an informal idiom that is commonly used in everyday conversation. Avoid using this idiom in formal writing or professional settings.

Sentence examples

— I accidentally spilled the beans when I told my friend we're painting the baby's room pink.  

— I cannot believe you spilled the beans about our party tomorrow—now I'll have to invite Nancy.

— Mark and I got engaged last night but don't spill the beans to anyone—I want to tell mom and dad in person tomorrow night.

— If I spill the beans will you promise not to tell anyone else?

— We planned a surprise birthday party for my colleague but a deliveryman accidentally spilled the beans to him about it.

— Did you really just spill the beans about me planning to propose to Caroline? I was planning on doing it this summer but that's six month's away and she thinks it's happening this weekend!

— I can't believe I spilled the beans about my crush; now everyone knows and I'm embarrassed.

— Yesterday, I spilled the beans about our weekend getaway. It wasn't by accident. I wanted everyone to be jealous.

— You should never tell me a secret! I hope I don't spill the beans by mistake.

— Be careful not to spill the beans before the big announcement.

— I know you were the one who spilled the beans about my diagnosis because I didn't tell anyone else about it.

— Don't tell Sarah anything confidential because she's incapable of not spilling the beans.

— I hate to spill the beans but I think you should know your boyfriend is seeing another girl and she posted photos of them together on Facebook.

— My mother promised not to spill the beans about my pregnancy but then turned around and told two people—who told two more people and so on and so on!

— My coworker spilled the beans about a new product we were developing and a competitor learned about it and released their own version before we did.

— My colleague spilled the beans that I had found a new position and it got back to my supervisor before I had given my notice of resignation.


  • let the cat out of the bag
  • blurt out
  • blow the whistle
  • give the game away
  • open one's big mouth
  • let it slip


  • mum's the word
  • hold one's tongue
  • zip one's lips
  • button one's lip
  • seal one's lips

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