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'Spilling the Tea': Meaning of the Slang Expression

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes about interesting things.


I recently used the slang expression, "spilling the tea." Not many people knew what I was talking about. It is understandable that they didn't know because it is a relatively new urban expression that was popularized on the television show RuPaul’s Drag Race,

The expression "spilling the tea" simply means "telling some juicy news about someone usually in their absence. The idea is that people sit around drinking tea and talking about others. They spill the tea when they tell some interesting news about someone who is not there.

Wiktionary describes the informal expression as the act of disclosing information of a sensitive nature.

Where Tea Is Usually Spilled

The expression "spilling the tea" is usually heard on talk shows and seen on social media where people are willing to share what they know about others.

The news isn't always negative, but most of the time it is. However, it is usually some interesting news that others want to know and comment about.

There are many daytime talk shows where the first segment is called "hot topics" and the focus is on recent entertainment news. The tea that is spilled is usually about someone who just got married, had a baby, went to jail, or did something that is newsworthy. There are endless topics that people spill the tea about.

Getting ready to spill the tea

Getting ready to spill the tea

The daytime talk shows air on television all day long. Therefore, it is easy to hear what tea is being spilled on shows such as Wendy Williams, The Real, The View, The Talk, and Tamron Hall. A lot of tea is spilled on the entertainment and gossip television programs such as Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Access Hollywood, E! News and TMZ. Tea is also spilled in print media such as Page Six and the Daily Mail.

The social media platforms are Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and personal blogs. There is never any shortage of tea being spilled on the internet.

A lot of tea is spilled in the tabloids you see at the checkout counters in grocery stores. Some of the tea that is spilled in those newsmagazines is fake news.

Tea Is Not the Only Thing That Can Be Spilled

Spilling the tea is similar to other expressions that have been around much longer. For instance, it is close to the meaning of "spilling the beans." When you spill the beans, you share private information that you know about someone. That slang expression means sharing some news about people who are not present to defend themselves.

Whenever someone "spills the coffee," a lie added to the story to make it even more interesting.

Another word for gossip is "dirt." Therefore, when you tell juicy news about someone, you are spilling the dirt on them.

Warnings About Spilling the Tea

There are some warnings about spilling the tea. Make sure the information you share is true. If not, it is gossip. Spreading gossip goes against the Word of God. There is nothing wrong with sharing information with others that is true, but it is wrong to make up gossip about people or to use their misfortune as the subject of your conversation.

Another warning is to refrain from listening to gossip because that makes you just as guilty as the one who tells it. If you don't listen to it, there is a good chance the gossip will stop in its tracks. If you don't listen to it, you won't have to worry about repeating it.


Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on March 05, 2020:

Margaret I can’t write tonight because I am enjoying your articles so much. This is interesting. I never knew what it meant before.

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