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


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

After playing catch one day, Wright took Ottavino to the bullpen, placed a glove on top of a sandbag and told Ottavino to knock it down with a pitch — forcing him to concentrate only on the glove. James Wagner, New York Times, "The Secret to Adam Ottavino’s Calm: A Little Black Notebook," 4 Sep. 2019 Volusia County crews distributed free supplies and materials for more than 100,000 sandbags during the last several days. Lisa Maria Garza,, "Two men arrested for stealing sandbags from construction site, Volusia deputies say," 2 Sep. 2019 For the fourth consecutive year, scientists in Florida are preparing for a major hurricane, laying down sandbags and boarding up windows at research facilities along the state’s Atlantic coast. David Malakoff, Science | AAAS, "As Hurricane Dorian bears down, researchers get ready," 31 Aug. 2019 Those pieces included fill and gravel available to create a foundation, sandbags to build a perimeter, and fuel tanks that the school district had already acquired. Anna Rose Macarthur, Anchorage Daily News, "With 24-hour extension, school district meets deadline to transfer Napakiak fuel away from eroding riverbank," 30 Aug. 2019 Residents in that area can pick up filled sandbags from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Coconino High School South Parking lot, 2801 N. Izael St. in Flagstaff. Andrew Nicla, azcentral, "Rain helps but poses risks for firefighters as Museum Fire near Flagstaff burns 1,887 acres," 24 July 2019 Southeast of New Orleans, authorities handed out sandbags and people piled into cars with their pets and began clearing out. Rebecca Santana,, "Tropical Storm Barry forms off the coast of already drenched Louisiana, could become hurricane," 11 July 2019 Residents there on Monday began putting up sandbags around their homes. Carina Julig, The Denver Post, "Flood risks bring warnings for those living, playing near rivers in southwestern Colorado," 10 June 2019 Mississippi River cities rushed to sandbag and evacuate downtown homes and businesses as floodwaters that overwhelmed defenses in Davenport, Iowa, earlier in the week headed downstream toward St. Louis. Erin Ailworth, WSJ, "Mississippi River Cities Brace for More Damage as Floodwaters Move Toward St. Louis," 3 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Ben Cherington was sandbagged in the middle of the 2015 season, less than two years after winning a World Series. Dan Shaughnessy,, "Dave Dombrowski discovers having the biggest payroll always comes with a price," 9 Sep. 2019 His home two doors away was boarded and sandbagged. Kevin Spear,, "Hurricane Dorian’s thunderous surf is awesome, fearsome relief to tedium in Brevard County," 3 Sep. 2019 Meanwhile, in Pasco County, inmates were helping with sandbagging operations, according to the sheriff's office. Daniella Silva, NBC News, "Hurricane Dorian could hit Florida as Category 4," 29 Aug. 2019 The Missouri River had been projected to start falling in Jefferson City but first rose above its forecasted crest, causing road crews to start sandbagging along a major highway that carries traffic into the state’s capital city. Washington Post, "Floodwaters test sandbag fortifications around Missouri," 5 June 2019 Homeowners sandbagged their property or packed up and left. Janet Mcconnaughey,, "Barry’s outer bands begin hitting southeastern Louisiana," 12 July 2019 The City of Detroit has been sandbagging parts of Detroit's canal district in the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood on the far lowest east side. John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, "High water levels foreshadow huge cost of climate change in Michigan," 16 July 2019 At the edge of the town of Jean Lafitte just outside New Orleans, volunteers helped several town employees sandbag a 600-foot stretch of the two-lane state highway. Sarah Blake Morgan And Janet Mcconnaughey,, "Tropical Storm Barry weakens upon landfall in Louisiana, dumps rain across Gulf Coast," 13 July 2019 At the edge of the town of Jean Lafitte just outside New Orleans, volunteers helped several town employees sandbag a 600-foot stretch of the two-lane state highway through town. Author: Kevin Mcgill, Janet Mcconnaughey, Anchorage Daily News, "Barry crawls ashore in Louisiana, weakens to tropical storm," 13 July 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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Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

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)
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

More from Merriam-Webster on sandbag

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sandbag

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sandbag

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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