sand·​bag | \ ˈsan(d)-ˌbag How to pronounce sandbag (audio) \

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

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 All four sandbag locations will be open from 8 a.m. to noon. Jeff Adelson,, "Here's where to get sandbags in New Orleans ahead of Tropical Storm Laura," 24 Aug. 2020 In the new Proteus material, researchers compare the structure to shooting a bullet into a sandbag. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "This New, Non-Cuttable Material Is Virtually Indestructible," 20 July 2020 Local offices in Chiba city already started distributing free sandbags to shield against flooding. Fox News, "Super Typhoon Hagibis may be strongest to hit Japan in decades, 2 Rugby World Cup games canceled," 11 Oct. 2019 The second immunity challenge was another big build on both land and on sea as the players raced through obstacles, grabbed a key, unlocked sandbags, and then had to land two on a table. Dalton Ross,, "Survivor: Winners at War finale recap: Dominance is rewarded," 14 May 2020 More than 156,000 sandbags have been distributed, the governor said. Max Golembo, ABC News, "Mississippi getting more rain as residents endure 'unprecedented' flooding," 17 Feb. 2020 In the northern England city of York, authorities were piling up more than 4,000 sandbags as the River Ouse continued to rise. Danica Kirka And Jan M. Olsen,, "Deluge delivers severe flooding in Britain," 17 Feb. 2020 More than 96,000 sandbags have been delivered to Hinds County, the governor said. Nicole Chavez, CNN, "Pearl River is nearing historic flood levels as Mississippi residents flee their homes," 16 Feb. 2020 More than 96,000 sandbags had already been distributed by Saturday. NBC News, "Mississippi braces for 'historic, unprecedented' flooding around its capital," 15 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Falwell’s attempt to sandbag me, and the Examiner, with a last minute story without providing the Examiner clear evidence that this was not simply an ‘affair’ with concocted allegations of extortion reeks desperation. Anthony Leonardi, Washington Examiner, "'Granny panties': Falwell Jr. denies that sharing image of exposed female Liberty University student was sexual act," 26 Aug. 2020 Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s efforts at sandbagging Southeast Asia’s biggest economy from a deepening coronavirus crisis may have come too late and the stimulus unveiled so far is poorly targeted, according to two former finance ministers. Karlis Salna,, "Indonesia Stimulus Is Too Little Too Late, Former Ministers Say," 10 May 2020 Sewer main lines were completely filled, and crews sandbagged manholes in the area to avoid further surface water infiltration, city officials said. USA TODAY, "More pigeon hats, cushion cash, Chaka Khan: News from around our 50 states," 20 Jan. 2020 The council was angry with Fischer and accused him of sandbagging them earlier on pension issues. Joseph Gerth, The Courier-Journal, "From the Kentucky Derby to the governor's race, here are the top 9 moments from 2019," 19 Dec. 2019 In Pisa, workers sandbagged the road along the rising Arno River, which was also surging through the heart of Florence, reaching a level near the Uffizi Galleries that was described as the highest in some 20 years. Colleen Barry And Luca Bruno, USA TODAY, "Venice hit with a historic third major flood in less than a week," 18 Nov. 2019 Far worse, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent and Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor repeatedly sandbagged Democrats’ rationale for booting President Donald J. Trump offstage. Deroy Murdock, National Review, "Schiff’s Impeachment Show Is Off to a Shaky Start," 15 Nov. 2019 In Pisa, famed for its Leaning Tower, workers sandbagged the road along the rising Arno River, which authorities said had reached the highest level there and in another Tuscan city, Florence, since 1992. Colleen Barry And Luca Bruno,, "Record flooding again swamps soaked Venice," 17 Nov. 2019 The south-central North Dakota city began sandbagging after releases from the Pipestem Dam and Jamestown Reservoir were increased. USA TODAY, "Sesame Street joins SeaWorld, sunken WW II ship found, presidential yacht: News from around our 50 states," 22 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for sandbag

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The first known use of sandbag was in 1590

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Last Updated

31 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sandbag.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for sandbag


How to pronounce sandbag (audio)

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)
chiefly US, informal : to hit (someone) with a sandbag
US, informal : to hide your true abilities or purpose in order to deceive people, gain an advantage, etc.


sand·​bag | \ ˈsand-ˌbag How to pronounce sandbag (audio) \

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

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