Green’s Dictionary of Slang

sand n.1

[fig. uses of SE]

1. (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’].

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[US]True Northerner (Paw Paw, MI) 19 Oct. 7/1: ‘What’s the sandbox?’ [...] ‘Why, it’s the sugar’.
[US]Sun (NY) 28 Mar. 2/6: ‘Give the sand box a kick down this way,’ means ‘Pass the sugar’.
[Aus]W.H. Downing Digger Dialects 43: sand — Sugar.
[US]J. Stevens ‘Logger Talk’ AS I:3 137/2: Cheese is ‘choker’. Sugar is ‘sand’.
[US]Mencken Amer. Lang. (4th edn) 580: In virtually all American prisons [...] sugar is sand or dirt.
[US]N.Y. Herald Trib. 27 Apr. 20/2: Here is a list of navy ‘slanguage’: [...] Sand—Sugar or salt.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 184/2: Sand. (P) Sugar.
[UK]G.W. Target Teachers (1962) 59: He drank the first of his tea, vintage N.A.A.F.I., only wanted sand and bromide.
[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 213: sand, n. – sugar.
[US]Maledicta V:1+2 Summer + Winter 267: Sugar is sand and salt and pepper are glitter and sneeze.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 67: Sand Sugar.

2. (US) courage, firmness of purpose, determination.

[US]J.S. Robb Streaks of Squatter Life 73: He set his brain to work conning a most powerful speech, one that would knock the sand from under Hoss.
[US]J.H. Green Reformed Gambler 121: I tell you, I never had the sand so knocked from under me before in my life. If you preach in that way, there wont be many of us gamblers left on this boat.
[US]T.F. Upson diary 29 May in Winther With Sherman to the Sea (1958) 115: He was hit with a shell [...] but is on duty again and is chuck full or sand (or pluck).
[US]B. Harte Tales of the Argonauts in Works (1903) 132: Blank me if I didn’t think he was losing his sand .
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 11 Dec. 7/1: [headline] Female Gamblers / [...] / Exciting Games, and Plenty of Sand Displayed.
[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Huckleberry Finn 259: She was the best girl I ever see, and had the most sand.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 26 July 2/4: Why, you rabbit, do you think learning how to box gives you sand?
[US]W.K. Post Harvard Stories 284: And is his ‘sand,’ as you call it, restricted to rowing a boat-race?
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 12 Jan. 226: Bravo! You’ll make true sailors. You’ve got the sand in you, I lay.
[UK]C.E. Mulford ‘Hopalong’s Hop’ in Pearson’s Mag. Nov. [Internet] They’ve got onto it some way [...] but that don’t make no difference if you’ve got th’ sand. [Ibid.] I got th’ sand to go through with anythin’ I starts.
[NZ]‘Anzac’ On the Anzac Trail 51: The Egyptian of the better class [...] would never find the sand to stand up to the Westerner in a mix-up for the show-boss’s job.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper XL:2 63: The kid’s got sand, an’ he’s game plumb through.
[US]H.C. Witwer Kid Scanlon 323: Because in every trade or profession there’s somebody with half the sand and ability, who don’t know the job’s requirements but knows the boss’s son!
[US]J. Lait Put on the Spot 5: ‘Sand, Ray—sand!’ cautioned Goldie. ‘This calls for some noodle.’.
[US]O. Strange Sudden Takes the Trail 43: Either Mullins has more sand than we reckoned or he’s gamblin’ on Jim’s dislike o’ drawin’ on a fellow-creetur.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 816: sand – Courage; nerves; ‘guts’.
[US]E. Shepard Doom Pussy 65: You’ve got a lot of sand, gal.
[US]T. Piccirilli Fever Kill 145: Edwards had a little more steel and sand to him than Crease had thought.

3. (orig. US) money [refers to money not as a ‘staff of life’ but as dirt].

[US]G.W. Peck Peck’s Boss Book 73: I didn’t have any sand.
[US]World (N.Y.) 22 Apr. 12/1: ‘Can I get $5,000’ was the question that he asked. / When he called upon the President one day; / I’m the greatest in the land. And I want to get more ‘sand’; / If I don’t, why, then, of course, I will not play.
[US]Irving Jones ‘De Hottest Coon in Town’ [lyrics] Craps dat is my game ... A sporty coon, I’ve got de sand, And likewise got de tin.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 22 May 4/8: I don’t do my sand in at Snuffy’s / And the Toms don’t close on my beans.
[UK]A. Binstead Mop Fair 104: Have you got the sand to endorse that [i.e. a bill]?

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

[US]San Quentin Bulletin Jan. 11: When someone yells for the sand one passes him the salts.
[US]Abilene Reporter-News (TX) 27 Dec. 5/1: Sand and dirt are salt and pepper.
[US]N.Y. Herald Trib. 27 Apr. 20/2: Here is a list of navy ‘slanguage’: [...] Sand—Sugar or salt.

In derivatives

sandiness (n.)

(US) the quality of having courage or ‘guts’.

[US]C.M. Flandrau Harvard Episodes 31: Their persistent ‘sandiness’ compelled his admiration [DA].

SE in slang uses

In derivatives

sandies (n.) [abbr.]

(Aus.) sand flies.

[Aus]N. Keesing Lily on the Dustbin 95: Dad, ‘old fuddy-duddy’ (or sceptic) has also lit a mosquito coil against ‘mossies’, ‘sandies’ (sand flies) and other ‘bities’.

In compounds


see separate entries.

sand-duster (n.)

(US) a short person.

[US]F. Paley Rumble on the Docks (1955) 74: They go crazy for a tall guy! [...] All the guys they go around with are sanddusters.

see separate entries.

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

a caisson worker, working under compressed air, digging and laying the foundations of bridges etc.

Saint Nicolas Mag. IV 538/2: ‘Once a sand-hog, always a sand-hog,’ the saying goes. They are simply unfit for work unless stimulated with oxygen. They can only work two hours at a time in this pressure.
[US]N.Y. Times 25 July SM6: These ‘sand hogs’ or caisson men are perhaps the most unique body of laborers in the world. Working in compressed air far below the surface of land or water is a difficult, often, indeed, a dangerous trade, and the wages are proportionately high. ‘Sand-hogging’ is not skilled labor, but few skilled laborers and master workmen get higher pay than these men.
[US]J. Conroy Disinherited 247: We knew how sand hoggers were lowered in hollow tubes to the bed of the river.
[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 78: He just got through working as a sandhog on the San Jack tunnel.
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 303: The bald headed, sandhog shouldered Dhom who towered over Chief Choate even. [Ibid.] 821: It turned out much to everybody’s surprise that his old man had been a sandhog on the Holland Tunnel job.
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Men from the Boys (1967) 90: Jobs where you risk your life, normal risks, sandhog, steeplejack, high construction work.
J.H. Johnson Negro Digest 37: [heading] Veteran sandhog has tangled with death ten times in New York tunnel.
[US]L.A. Times 22 Mar. [Internet] Those attracted to the work—known as ‘sandhogs’ in the East; ‘tunnel stiffs’ in the West—are, by reputation, hard-living boomers who travel from job to job and are somewhat casual about risks. ‘You finally get to where you don’t pay much attention,’ said Audrain Weatherl of Sacramento, a veteran tunnel stiff and an official of the Laborers International Union.
[US] in J. Breslin Damon Runyon (1992) 90: These tunnel workers, called sandhogs, started driving the tunnel under Broadway.
S. Cheever Home Before Dark: A Personal Memoir of John Cheever 196: Then we talked about a friend of his at Smithers who had been a sandhog, and how he had dug.
[US]Village Voice 11 Apr. [Internet] Veteran sandhogs are finishing tunnels for the future subway.
sand scratcher (n.) [note 19C Aus. sandscratcher, a gold miner]

(US) a derog. term for a Syrian, an Indian (from India).

posting at [Internet] Do they really think this anthrax is coming over from the taliban I dont think so its coming from a sand scratcher right next door.
Lost 27 Dec. [Internet] It will be mandatory that the words ‘towel-head,’ ‘camel jockey,’ ‘camel-humper’ and ‘sand-scratcher’ be added to vocabulary lists of all elementary school classrooms throughout the U.S.

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]

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

[US]J. Morris Wanderings of a Vagabond 46: You can do it if you will only shove a little more sand in your craw.
[US]Christian Monitor 15 147: I think you’re a chicken-hearted little goose, a whimpering baby just now, but at bottom you really have some sand in your craw.
West Shore 12 177: Have a good crop of sand in your craw, confidence in yourself, trust in God and keep your powder dry, and you will conquer every obstacle.
[US]R.W. Brown ‘Word-List From Western Indiana’ in DN III:viii 588: sand in one’s craw, n. phr. Courage. ‘He won’t do it; he hasn’t any sand in his craw’.
[US]L.R. Dingus ‘A Word-List From Virginia’ in DN IV:iii 183: gizzard, to have sand on one’s, v. phr. To have courage.
[US] ‘The Open Book’ in G. Logsdon Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing (1995) 115: Now there’s boosters from poor Oklahoma, / And there’s brokers from old Arkansaw; / But they’re cotton pickers and tinhorn dice slickers, / With none too much sand in the craw.
kick up sand (v.) [? the famous ‘Charles Atlas’ advert, in which the bully kicks sand into the weakling’s face]

(US black) to make a fuss, to complain.

[US]Randolph & Wilson Down in the Holler 276: The phrase kick up sand carries the same meaning.
[US]Jackson & Christian Death Row 85: Kick up sand. I do it. I don’t never just sit back and take it.
raise sand (v.) [image of kicking sand in someone’s face or blowing up a sand storm]

1. (US) to cause a stir, a commotion.

[US]DN I n.p.: ‘To raise sand’ is slang for to get furiously angry, the same as ‘to raise Cain.’ [To raise Cain means in New England and Michigan to ‘carry on’ noisily, whether from anger or not.
[US]J.D. Corrothers Black Cat Club 14: You black people bin raisin’ san’ wid yo’ Shakespeare ack!
[US] ‘This Mornin; this Evenin’ in J.F. Dobie Rainbow in Morning (1965) 177: ’Tain’t no need in raisin’ sand, / ’Cause I got my Gatlin’ in my han’.
[US]L.W. Payne Jr ‘Word-List From East Alabama’ in DN III:v 362: raise sand, v. To make a great disturbance, get angry and stir up confusion.
[US] ‘Looking For A Fight’ in T.W. Talley Negro Folk Rhymes 118: I went down town de yudder night, / A-raisin’ san’ an’ a-wantin’ a fight.
[US]Casey Bill Weldon ‘Two-Timin’ Woman’ [lyrics] You’re always raising sand baby, / And you’re always doggin’ me.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 377: raise sand: make a fuss, cause a stir.
[US]E. Brown Trespass 88: Like in the French Legion movies with all them old fuzzy-wuzzies raising sand.
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].
[US]N. McCall Them (2008) 200: I didn’t kere bout her raisin sand. I needed that cah for me.

2. (US black) to have a good time.

[US]Blind Lemon Jefferson ‘Dry Southern Blues’ [lyrics] Tell me them good-lookin’ womens on the border’s raisin’ sand.

3. to complain.

[US]L. Hughes Mulatto in Three Negro Plays (1969) Act I: That’s de Colonel’s favourite chair. If he knows any little darkie’s been jumpin’ on it, he raise sand.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 219: They been raisin’ sand ever since.
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].
[US]C. Carr Our Town 40: His white co-workers finally ‘raised sand’ with personnel, and Wise was hired.

4. (US Und.) to fight.

[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].