sandbag

1 of 2

noun

sand·​bag ˈsan(d)-ˌbag How to pronounce sandbag (audio)
: a bag filled with sand and used in fortifications, as ballast, or as a weapon

sandbag

2 of 2

verb

sandbagged; sandbagging; sandbags

transitive verb

1
: to bank, stop up, or weight with sandbags
2
a
: 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
sandbagger noun

Did you know?

How much nuance is there in a bag of sand? Here’s the nitty-gritty: when sandbag was first established as a verb in the 1800s, it meant (quite understandably) “to bank, stop up, or weight with sandbags,” but since then it has taken on several figurative meanings, some more obvious than others. First came the simple (and decidedly unfriendly in application) metaphorical extension: “to hit or stun as if with a sandbag.” Less literal uses followed, including “to treat unfairly or harshly” and “to coerce by crude means.” By the mid-20th century, sandbag was being used by poker players to describe the act of pretending a strong hand is actually weak, in order to draw other players into raising the bet. This use of sandbag has since evolved to refer to a general strategy of misrepresenting one’s intentions or abilities in order to gain some sort of advantage.

Example Sentences

Verb 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
One photo appeared to show a sandbag tethered to the chest. Stephen Smith, CBS News, 22 Nov. 2022 In Seminole County, northeast of Orlando, officials opened sandbag distribution locations on Monday. Frieda Frisaro And Julie Walker, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Nov. 2022 For 22 years, Spartan has attracted extreme athletes to extreme events, including the notorious Death Race, a 72-hour competition that’s included pushing a 500-pound sled up a mountain and carrying a sandbag for 26.2 miles. Marco Quiroz-gutierrez, Fortune, 29 Sep. 2022 Simple: the brilliant design includes a sandbag at the end of each corner to weigh it down. Maren Estrada, BGR, 6 Oct. 2022 On Saturday, sandbag locations opened from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Old Geneva Fire Station, 320 W. State Road 46; Lake Monroe Wayside Park, 4150 Highway 17, Sanford; and the Oviedo Public Works building, 1655 Evans St., Oviedo. Amanda Rabines, Orlando Sentinel, 1 Oct. 2022 Each inflatable is fixed with a sandbag, and the set is equipped with ropes and ground stakes to keep the float in place during harsh weather. Nicol Natale, Peoplemag, 29 Sep. 2022 The city will set up sandbag filling stations from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, and Sunday, Sept. 25, at Festival Park, 191 Howland Blvd. David Harris, Orlando Sentinel, 24 Sep. 2022 The third and final event, which requires them both to race a third of a mile uphill while carrying a 75-pound sandbag, is worth two points, i.e. half the entire test. Philip Ellis, Men's Health, 22 Mar. 2022
Verb
What’s happening right now, as recalcitrant witnesses like Steve Bannon defy subpoenas in a collective effort among Trump allies to sandbag the commission, should be instructive for the Biden administration. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 19 Oct. 2021 Failure at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow or the Iran nuclear negotiations in Vienna would sandbag a presidency still struggling to find its feet. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, 4 Oct. 2021 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded by creating a committee to look into the attack, but the GOP has sought to sandbag that as well. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 4 Aug. 2021 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded by creating a committee to look into the attack, but the GOP has sought to sandbag that as well. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 4 Aug. 2021 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded by creating a committee to look into the attack, but the GOP has sought to sandbag that as well. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 4 Aug. 2021 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded by creating a committee to look into the attack, but the GOP has sought to sandbag that as well. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 4 Aug. 2021 In the 20 years that the United States military was in Afghanistan, more than 775,000 American troops deployed there, to citylike air bases and sandbag outposts on lonely mountaintops. New York Times, 16 Aug. 2021 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded by creating a committee to look into the attack, but the GOP has sought to sandbag that as well. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 4 Aug. 2021 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

Noun

1590, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1860, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sandbag was in 1590

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near sandbag

Cite this Entry

“Sandbag.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sandbag. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

sandbag

noun

sand·​bag
ˈsan(d)-ˌbag
: a bag filled with sand
Last Updated: - Updated Did you know?
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ