Spill The Beans

Time to spill the beans about ‘spilling the beans’ (shameless). How did revealing juicy secrets come to be known as spilling the beans?



If so-and-so ‘spilled the beans,’ chances are good that they did so by accident. Or perhaps they were strongly encouraged (🗡️) to do so.

The phrase is said to be rooted in Ancient Greek voting practices…

The evidence has been presented. Gather your thoughts and prepare to vote. Yes, or no? Now, grab your bean – white means ‘yes’, black or brown means ‘no’ – and drop it in the urn.

Hurry up. Tension’s mounting. Get those last votes in. Woops. Someone ‘accidentally’ knocked over the urn, and spilled the beans. Now, we all know how our compatriots have voted so far.

As a phrase, ‘spilling the beans’ became popular in early 1900s America. In his 1928 Everyday Sayings, Charles Lurie agrees with the Ancient Greek bean theory. He adds: ‘Magistrates and other public officials were elected by beans cast by the voters into a helmet.’


Header Photo: Getty Images




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Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton