Word Origin Wednesday #1

WOW1Word Origin Wednesday or WOW for short first popped into my head when I realised that I forgot to unsubscribe from my blog and accidentally paid for another year’s subscription. Nothing like forking out a couple of pounds to make you get creative!

First one coming up…

“SPILL THE BEANS”

After doing a bit of research I realised that, no, it did not in fact originate from simply spilling a can of beans, good thing too as that wouldn’t make for a very interesting read.spillbeans

Instead, it apparently goes all the way back to the voting system in Ancient Greece!
The Ancient Greeks cast their votes with beans! White beans indicated a yes vote while black indicated a no vote. Some say that they actually used pebbles but that kind of ruins what I’m trying to do here so ignore that.
votebeans
For a vote to be successful it also had to be unanimous. It was also important that all votes remained completely secret so they used opaque vases exactly like this one.
VOTINGVASE
Easy. Fool proof. What could go wrong?
You know how there’s always one that has to ruin it for everybody else? Turns out it wasn’t any different back then. The collector would sometimes SPILL THE BEANS either by mistake or on purpose. If this happened and a black bean was seen the whole vote had to be called off. Absolute nightmare for all involved I’m sure.
There you go, now you know!

togocool

All of that being said, there is a lot of speculation as to whether or not any of this is completely true as this idiom made its first appearance in the early 20th century where the word “spill” just means “let out”.
YAWN.
I can’t draw that.

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