Antedatings of "spill the beans"

Michael Quinion michael.quinion at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Wed Feb 5 13:35:15 UTC 2014

Thanks for the antedating, Hugo. You might also like to see my piece of
about a year ago on the term:

> The OED has spill the beans meaning "to reveal a secret" from 1919.
> The Phrase Finder has 1908 for the meaning of "upset the applecart"
> and 1911 for "upset a previously stable situation by talking out of
> turn".
> The earliest I found is a 1902 in horse-racing, meaning "caused an
> upset", quoting owner E. J. Arnold.
> The St. Louis Republic (St. Louis, MO), November 25, 1902:
> [Begin] "Ethylene was 15 to 1 one day and would have won sure had
> Battiste been up. He was set down by the starter in St. Louis and I had
> to ride a bad boy. Then we put Battiste up later and got down. Kiley
> told him to take her back a bit. He did, and in some manner the field
> ran around and over her so that she was shut in, cut off and lost. So
> the beans were spilled. [End]

Michael Quinion
World Wide Words

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list