To Spill The Beans (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "To Spill The Beans"?

Meaning to give away a secret or to confess, the term spill the beans derives from the electing of a council member in ancient Greece. Each council member would vote with either a white bean (yes) or a brown bean (no), and these would secretly be put into a jar, and no one would know which way the members voted. However, if the jar was knocked over causing the beans to spill out, the proportion of yes and no votes could be seen.

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See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs

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