(British English, slang) be/go wrong; be spoilt or not working: It looks like our holiday plans are up the spout. ♢ This information the bank sent me is totally up the spout. Spout was the name given to a lift in a pawnbroker’s shop which took goods up to an area where they were stored. If somebody had items up the spout, they were in financial trouble. The expression gradually came to mean difficulties in general.