Green’s Dictionary of Slang

sand n.1

[fig. uses of SE]

1. [early 19C+] (now mainly US prison or short order) sugar, e.g. Joe with cow and sand, a cup of coffee with milk and sugar [Vaux glosses ‘moist sugar’].

2. [mid-19C] (US) courage, firmness of purpose, determination.

3. [late 19C–1900s] (orig. US) money [refers to money not as a ‘staff of life’ but as dirt].

4. salt, thus sand and dirt, salt and pepper.

In derivatives

sandiness (n.)

[late 19C] (US) the quality of having courage or ‘guts’.

SE in slang uses

In derivatives

sandies (n.) [abbr.]

[1980s] (Aus.) sand flies.

In compounds


see separate entries.

sand-duster (n.)

[1950s] (US) a short person.


see separate entries.

sand-hog (n.) (also sand-hogger)

[late 19C+] a caisson worker, working under compressed air, digging and laying the foundations of bridges etc.

sandman (n.) [they sandbag v.1 (1) their victim]

[1910s+] (Aus.) a footpad, a mugger.

sand scratcher (n.) [note 19C Aus. sandscratcher, a gold miner]

[2000s] (US) a derog. term for a Syrian, an Indian (from India).

In phrases

dance in the sandbox (n.)

see under dance v.

have sand in one’s craw (v.) (also have sand on one’s gizzard) [sense 2 above]

[1910s] (US) to act courageously; thus sand in the craw n., courage.

kick up sand (v.) [? the famous ‘Charles Atlas’ advert, in which the bully kicks sand into the weakling’s face]

[1950s–60s] (US black) to make a fuss, to complain.

raise sand (v.) [image of kicking sand in someone’s face or blowing up a sand storm]

1. [late 19C+] (US) to cause a stir, a commotion.

2. [1920s] (US black) to have a good time.

3. [1930s+] to complain.

4. [1980s] (US Und.) to fight.