In linguistics, idioms are usually presumed to be figures of speech contradicting the principle of compositionality.That compositionality is the key notion for the analysis of idioms is emphasized in most accounts of idioms.
However, in all these early usages the term "spill" was used in the sense of "upset" rather than "divulge".This idiom in turn means that the person is left in their former condition rather than being assisted so that their condition improves. "Chips and dip" is an irreversible binomial, but it refers to literal food items, not idiomatic ones. While some idioms are used only in a routine form, others can undergo syntactic modifications such as passivization, raising constructions, and clefting, demonstrating separable constituencies within the idiom.Many fixed idioms lack semantic composition, meaning that the idiom contains the semantic role of a verb, but not of any object. By contrast, the semantically composite idiom spill the beans, meaning reveal a secret, contains both a semantic verb and object, reveal and secret.The earliest known written accounts come from the USA and involve horse racing around 1902–1903, and the one who "spilled the beans" was an unlikely horse who won a race, thus causing the favorites to lose.By 1907 the term was being used in baseball, but the subject who "spilled the beans" shifted to players who made mistakes, allowing the other team to win.
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These types of changes can occur only when speakers can easily recognize a connection between what the idiom is meant to express and its literal meaning, thus an idiom like kick the bucket cannot occur as kick the pot.