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 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 Democrats chose that of all dates to sandbag, yet again, financial assistance that Trump and Republicans have tried to supply. Deroy Murdock, National Review, "Democrats Block Job-Saving Program," 19 Apr. 2020 Some of the most bulletproof material on earth is inexpensive and cheap: dirt and sandbags and distance. Kenneth R. Rosen, Wired, "The Illusion of Perfect Protection," 6 Apr. 2020 The group simply closed the loading door to stop the breeze and requested sandbags from the convention center staff to hold the scaffolds. oregonlive, "Tape and 2 hours to transform Oregon Convention Center into coronavirus homeless shelter," 21 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 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

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of sandbag was in 1590

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Last Updated

21 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sandbag.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2020.

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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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sandbag

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