sand·​bag | \ˈsan(d)-ˌbag \

Definition of sandbag 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: a bag filled with sand and used in fortifications, as ballast, or as a weapon


sandbagged; sandbagging; sandbags

Definition of sandbag (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to bank, stop up, or weight with sandbags

2a : to hit or stun with or as if with a sandbag

b : to treat unfairly or harshly

c : to coerce by crude means are raiding the Treasury and sandbagging the government— C. W. Ferguson

d : to conceal or misrepresent one's true position, potential, or intent especially in order to gain an advantage over

intransitive verb

: to hide the truth about oneself so as to gain an advantage over another

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Other Words from sandbag


sandbagger noun

Did You Know?


In the 19th century, the verb sandbag began to be used to describe the act of bludgeoning someone with a small, sand-filled bag - a tactic employed by ruffians, usually as a prelude to robbing their victims. The verb went on to develop metaphorical extensions, such as "to coerce by crude means." By the 1940s, it was being used of a strategy in which a poker player with a good hand bets weakly, in order to draw other players into holding on to their hands and raising the bet. The use of sandbag has since evolved to refer to a general strategy of playing down one's position in order to gain some sort of advantage.

Examples of sandbag in a Sentence


He claimed he was playing badly because of an injury, but I think he was sandbagging. I think he was sandbagging us.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Sand and sandbags were available in the St. Mary of the Nativity Parish parking lot Thursday morning, emergency officials said. Emily Sweeney,, "Coastal communities brace for storm, prepare for flooding," 1 Mar. 2018 Those who remain in high-risk areas are buttressing their homes with sandbags or moving into mosques to stay safe. Vidhi Doshi, Washington Post, "‘Everything was destroyed’: Monsoon begins to take deadly toll on Rohingya camps in Bangladesh," 24 June 2018 The Los Angeles Fire Department was offering ready-to-fill sandbags at all of its stations, and sand is available at select locations. CBS News, "California county orders evacuations ahead of possible mudslides," 1 Mar. 2018 Residents in the Gulf of Mexico are filling hundreds of sandbags in preparation for possibly the worst hurricane in 12 years to hit the mainland United States since Hurricane Wilma struck Florida in 2005. Andrea Leinfelder, Houston Chronicle, "Tight squeeze: Supersized crude carrier calls on Texas City port," 22 June 2018 Hobbs, then 10, was told to stuff her belongings into old burlap sandbags. Amy B Wang, Washington Post, "What World War II’s ‘Operation Pied Piper’ taught us about the trauma of family separations," 19 June 2018 And in the Tampa Bay area on the central Gulf Coast, cities offered sandbags for homeowners worried about floods. Robert Rhoden,, "Subtropical Storm Alberto - Watch the latest NHC video report," 27 May 2018 The County Department of Public Works staff will advise people about how to protect their properties, homes, garages, sheds and other structures and provide free sand, sandbags, fiber rolls and items to stabilize properties before rains arrive. Linda Mcintosh,, "Lions Club member receives fellowship award news," 14 July 2018 County officials have also been handing out sandbags to residents in the area. Martin E. Comas,, "East Seminole County residents keep nervous eye on rising St. Johns," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C., worked with the Amish community to sandbag around the tiny town of Elnora in Daviess County. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "Looking back at the 2008 floods in Indiana," 7 June 2018 On the other side of the DMZ, dispatches from South Korea indicate that Trump sandbagged Seoul by providing no notice of his decision, which further diminishes the status of the United States as a reliable partner within the global community. Jay Willis, GQ, "Donald Trump Cancels North Korea Summit, Placing His Nobel Peace Prize in Serious Jeopardy," 24 May 2018 To protect 3,500 tulips, workers tarped and sandbagged the riverside flower bed. Jennie Key,, "Tulips rescued in Smale Park were worth the effort," 1 May 2018 Her teammates were emotionally sandbagged at the final buzzer, and forward Sam Fuehring described being unable to hold back a torrent of empathy. Danielle Lerner, The Courier-Journal, "Myisha Hines-Allen ends memorable Louisville career with bittersweet Final Four epilogue," 31 Mar. 2018 On several occasions, Jenckes, like other farmers, was sandbagging along the levee of the swollen Wabash River. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "Virginia Jenckes: From farm girl to congresswoman," 23 Mar. 2018 Especially hard hit were share prices of U.S. auto makers, sandbagged by Mr. Trump after his efforts to lure them to shift production back to the U.S. Nor do his tweets fill anyone with confidence. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Reagan Protectionism vs. Trump Protectionism," 2 Mar. 2018 Remaining border disputes should be consigned to binding arbitration, not allowed to sandbag progress in open-ended skirmishing. Thomas W. Hazlett, WSJ, "How Politics Stalls Wireless Innovation," 1 Oct. 2017 Many storefronts already had been sandbagged and boarded up. Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, "This could be The Big One, again. Massive Irma slams into Caribbean, hurtles toward Florida.," 7 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sandbag.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of sandbag


1590, in the meaning defined above


1860, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Statistics for sandbag

Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sandbag

The first known use of sandbag was in 1590

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More Definitions for sandbag



Financial Definition of sandbag

What It Is

Sandbag is slang for lowering expectations.

How It Works

Let's say John Doe is a new employee at Company XYZ. He gets invited to the annual company golf outing. The other employees ask him how his game is. John says, "I'm ok." John, however, has actually had golf lessons since he was a child and plays every weekend. John is sandbagging.

Why It Matters

In the world of finance, the mantra is "underpromise and overdeliver," meaning that when you keep investors' expectations low, it's easier to make them happy. In turn, sandbagging can help elevate or at least maintain a stock price when companies report earnings. Companies sandbag by providing earnings guidance to analysts that is below what they actually think will occur.

Sandbagging isn't easy to maintain, however. Once analysts notice that companies consistently outdo their earnings guidance, they will start raising their expectations regardless of what the company guidance is.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of sandbag

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a bag filled with sand and used as a weight or to build temporary walls, dams, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of sandbag (Entry 2 of 2)

: to put sandbags around, on, or in (something)

: to hit (someone) with a sandbag

: to hide your true abilities or purpose in order to deceive people, gain an advantage, etc.


sand·​bag | \ˈsand-ˌbag \

Kids Definition of sandbag

: a bag filled with sand and used as a weight (as on a balloon) or as part of a wall or dam

More from Merriam-Webster on sandbag

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sandbag

Comments on sandbag

What made you want to look up sandbag? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express warning or disapproval

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