pop 1 /pɒp $ pɑːp/ ●●○ S3 verb (popped, popping) 1 COME OUT/OFF [intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to come suddenly or unexpectedly out of or away from something

pop out/off/up etc

The top button popped off my shirt.

The ball popped out of Smith’s hands and onto the ground.

out/up popped something

The egg cracked open and out popped a tiny head.

The lid popped open and juice spilled all over the floor.

spill ​[intransitive] + adv./prep. (of people) to come out of a place in large numbers and spread out

The doors opened and people spilled into the street.

After the clubs closed, the drinkers spilled out into the streets.

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Do you say "I accidentally opened the suitcase uncontrollably and the clothes popped out / spilled out over the floor"?

I am not sure if "pop out" or "spill out" are suitable words in this situation.

2 Answers 2


Pop suggests an active movement, jumping or being thrown out. Spill is better for clothes falling out of a suitcase - or you could use fell or tumbled.

I think most native speakers would say something like The suitcase came open and...

  • when we say "a bag came open/undone/loose etc", we meant it happened accidentally right? Maybe the buckle was loose for example, right?.
    – Tom
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 9:25
  • Well, you did say accidentally! Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 9:30

The Cambridge Dictionary offers these definition for pop out and spill:

pop out: to move quickly and suddenly, especially from a closed space

spill: to (cause to) flow, move, fall, or spread over the edge or outside the limits of something

Note the highlighted words in these definitions. We generally use pop out when something happens quickly, and we use the word spill about things that flow... mainly liquids, but also fluid solids like sugar or sand.

If the suitcase were very full, and the moment it is opened, the clothes were thrown quickly across the floor, you could say "pop". If the clothes simply fell slowly to the floor when the case opens, then fall out is the best term to use.

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