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 Still, while many cars were parked up on high ground and sandbags positioned outside some doorways, residents slowly began to resume their daily routines, less anxious that the city’s elaborate flood protection system would be overwhelmed. Jenny Jarvie,, "Barry, now a tropical depression, soaks much of Louisiana while sparing New Orleans," 14 July 2019 Some nearby homes had piled sandbags outside their doors. Janet Mcconnaughey,, "Millions in line of punishing rain from Tropical Storm Barry: ‘Stock up on water. Stock up food. Get ready for the storm — ride it out’," 12 July 2019 The problem is his offense plays as if weighed down by a truckload of sandbags, which may be helpful in a flood, but rather cumbersome in modern college football. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Here's how Michigan football, MSU will fare on Saturday | Opinion," 6 Sep. 2019 One group had dug their way down to their hips, while people in the crowd made their own sandbags to protect their homes. NBC News, "Some Floridians refuse to evacuate but worry about Hurricane Dorian's unclear trajectory," 31 Aug. 2019 This year, teams had to carry a sandbag, a bell weight and medicine ball from stage to stage. Slade Rand,, "The Connecticut SWAT Challenge brings police officers and military personnel from across the country to the state," 15 Aug. 2019 Neighbors making sure the houses were safe, that sandbags were collected and that there was enough food and water. Jennifer A. Marcial Ocasio,, "Sept. 11 documentary ‘You Are Here’ tells story of ‘a bright light in the dark’," 11 Sep. 2019 With vivid memories of that storm on residents’ minds, people in New Bern, N.C., put sandbags around homes and businesses and moved vehicles to higher ground in preparation for Dorian’s arrival. Reis Thebault, Washington Post, "Dorian spurs floods, tornadoes in Carolinas as hurricane continues its disastrous trek northward," 7 Sep. 2019 More than 100,000 free sandbags have been distributed in Volusia County in recent days in anticipation of Hurricane Dorian, not including those distributed by many cities in Volusia County, according to the sheriff's office. Fox News, "Hurricane Dorian spurs Florida authorities to warn against looting, 2 arrested for allegedly stealing sandbags," 3 Sep. 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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Statistics for sandbag

Last Updated

6 Nov 2019

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


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

More from Merriam-Webster on sandbag

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sandbag

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


concealed or difficult to comprehend

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