AskDefine | Define sandbag

Dictionary Definition

sandbag n : a bag filled with sand; used as a weapon or to build walls or as ballast


1 treat harshly or unfairly
2 compel by coercion, threats, or crude means; "They sandbagged him to make dinner for everyone" [syn: dragoon, railroad]
3 hit something or somebody as if with a sandbag [syn: stun]
4 downplay one's ability (towards others) in a game in order to deceive, as in gambling
5 protect or strengthen with sandbags; stop up; "The residents sandbagged the beach front" [also: sandbagging, sandbagged]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. a bag, filled with sand, that can be used to weigh something down, to make a defensive wall against flooding etc, or as a weapon



to sandbag
  1. to construct a wall of sandbags (around something)
  2. to strike someone with a sandbag or other object to disable or render unconscious
  3. to deceive someone by pretending to be weak, or (in cards) to have a weak hand

Extensive Definition

A sandbag (floodbag) is a sack made of burlap, polypropylene or other materials that is filled with sand or soil and used for such purposes as flood control, military fortification, shielding glass windows in war zones and ballast.
Advantages are that burlap and sand are inexpensive, and that the bags can be brought in empty and filled with local sand or soil.
Sandbags may be used during emergencies when rivers threaten to overflood, or a levee or dike is damaged. They may also be used in non-emergency situations (or after an emergency) as a foundation for new levees, or other water-control structures. Sandbags are not always an effective measure in the event of flooding because water will eventually seep through the bags and finer materials, like clay, may leak out through the seams.
The military uses sandbags for field fortifications, or as a temporary measure to protect civilian structures. Because burlap and sand are inexpensive, large protective barriers can be erected cheaply. The friction created by moving soil or sand grains and multiple tiny air gaps makes sandbags an efficient dissipator of explosive blast. The dimensions and weight of sandbags used in fortification are carefully calculated so that the bags can be interlocked like brickwork and are not too heavy to lift and move around. They may be laid in excavated defences as revetment, or as free-standing walls above ground where excavations are impractical. As plain burlap sandbags deteriorate fairly quickly, sandbag structures that are meant to remain in place for a long time may be painted with a portland cement slurry to reduce the effects of rot and abrasion. Cotton Ducking sandbags last considerably longer than burlap and are hence preferable for long-term use. However, the vast majority of sandbags used by modern militaries and for flood prevention are made of circular woven polypropylene. The easy availability to military personnel, size and construction of the bags has also led to the use of sandbags as makeshift hoods for prisoners of war.
Sandbags are also used for disposable ballast in gas balloons, and as counterweights for theatre sets.
Sandbags have traditionally been filled manually using spades. Since the 1990s, machine-filling has become more common, which allows the work to be done more quickly and efficiently.

Other uses

"Sandbag" can also refer to a crude weapon consisting of a small bag filled with sand for use as a cudgel typically by criminals, or to the act of striking a person on the head with such a weapon. This usage is obsolescent in normal speech, appearing mainly in legal codes. However the verb form is extended metaphorically in several slang expressions.
Sandbags are also used in weight training and put in the trunk of rear wheel drive cars to increase traction in inclement weather.
In games and various kinds of adversarial settings, the term sandbagging refers to the practice of purposely placing oneself in a weaker position so as to give the deceptive impression that one is less skilled than one truly is.
sandbag in German: Sandsack
sandbag in Dutch: Zandzak
sandbag in Japanese: 土嚢
sandbag in Swedish: Sandsäck
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1