She was holding a green beans bag and accidentally dropped it.

The beans were all over the floor.

My son saw it and told me,

"She spilled the green beans."

I always saw this word use for water, milk and soup.

Could it be use for green bean?


3 Answers 3


Yes, you can use spilled for green beans (or any other kind of beans). In fact, to spill the beans is a very common metaphor, meaning "to reveal a secret".

We usually use spill with liquids, but it can be used with anything that flows like liquid, such as beans, rice, grain, sand, salt, etc. You wouldn't use it with something more solid, like "steak" - "Spill the steak" doesn't make sense.

  • 2
    I think it can even work with bigger items, too, like peaches.
    – J.R.
    Sep 26, 2017 at 14:35
  • 3
    Or if you had a container with a bunch of e.g., frozen steaks, "spilled the steaks" would be fine.
    – derobert
    Sep 26, 2017 at 17:04
  • If you drop the bag and none come spilling out then it wouldn't make much sense. Sep 26, 2017 at 17:51

Spilled is used more for something escaping a container. Usually a liquid, occasionally multiples of a solid, and rarely a single solid item. For example, these all make some sense:

Milk spilled on the table and floor.
Beans spilled out of the bag.
Frozen steaks spilled out on the road. (Imagine an overturned truck)
A steak spilled out of the of the overturned grocery bag.

Define 'spilled' gives:

  • cause or allow (liquid) to flow over the edge of its container, especially unintentionally.
  • (of liquid) flow over the edge of its container.

You can use spill for anything that is fluid-like. Liquids are obviously fluids, but mass quantities of small things can also act as fluids in certain instances. Things in open bushels or buckets often fit this criteria, but non-actual-liquid things in closed bags often do not.

Or, put another way, if you can say pour X, you can say spill X.

You could use it for a large bucket/bushel of green beans but not really a bag of them. Unless it's a large bag with an open top (i.e. like a bucket or bushel). Because you don't pour greens beans from a bag typically. (Other types of beans might work with spill).

  • 3
    I'm not really sure the size of the bag makes much of a difference. I was picturing a pretty small bag in my head, and I think the sentence is fine. If you don't spill the green beans, what do you do? Drop them, with their inertia sending them sprawling across the floor? I just don't a more suitable alternative. Also, I think it's perfectly possible to pour green beans from a bag. What if you've got a relatively small bag of prewashed green beans, and you want to put them in a casserole dish. You could pluck them out and place them in the dish one at a time, or you could just pour them out.
    – cjl750
    Sep 26, 2017 at 19:18

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