Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A bed of loose sand mixed with water forming a soft shifting mass that yields easily to pressure and tends to engulf any object resting on its surface.
  • n. A place or situation into which entry can be swift and sudden but from which extrication can be difficult or impossible. Often used in the plural: "This theory of the future entrapped [them] in the quicksands of Vietnam” ( Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.)

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Wet sand that things readily sink in, often found near rivers or coasts
  • n. Anything that pulls one down or buries one metaphorically

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Sand easily moved or readily yielding to pressure; especially, a deep mass of loose or moving sand mixed with water, sometimes found at the mouth of a river or along some coasts, and very dangerous, from the difficulty of extricating a person who begins sinking into it.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To catch in a quicksand.
  • To cover with quicksands: as, a quicksanded coast.
  • n. A movable sand-bank in a sea, lake, or river; a large mass of loose or moving sand mixed with water formed on many sea-coasts, at the mouths and in the channels of rivers, etc., sometimes dangerous to vessels, and especially to travelers.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a treacherous situation that tends to entrap and destroy
  • n. a pit filled with loose wet sand into which objects are sucked down

Etymologies

Middle English quyksond, living sand : quick, quyk, living; see quick + sand, sond, sand; see sand.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English quyksande, from Old English cwecesand ("quicksand"), from Proto-Germanic *kwikwaz (“living, active”) + Proto-Germanic *samdaz, *samdan (“sand”), equivalent to quick (“living”) +‎ sand. Cognate with Dutch kwikzand ("quicksand"), German Quicksand ("quicksand"), Icelandic kwiksandur, kviksyndi ("quicksand"). More at quick, sand. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Do this, and you're liable to end up thinking that quicksand is something that only happens in the jungle or the desert, and that the average patch has no discernible bottom.

    Boing Boing

  • Getting unstuck from quicksand is really a Vulcan-esque endeavor, requiring rationality, intelligence and emotional distance.

    Boing Boing

  • Meaning that, under normal circumstances, a person in quicksand should really just bob around like buoy on the ocean.

    Boing Boing

  • Because quicksand is so viscous, it's difficult for air to penetrate it.

    Boing Boing

  • In fact, one of the true dangers of quicksand is exhaustion.

    Boing Boing

  • Some of these people make me think of someone who, while they are going down in quicksand, refuse the rope you throw them because it hurts their hands.

    CNN Poll: Americans worry Obama health care plan will increase costs

  • In recent years, one local farmer and one from a neighboring community suffocated in quicksand-like grain bins.

    Some workers face danger for our convenience

  • It was the Nuggets who looked like they were stuck in quicksand by game's end.

    USATODAY.com

  • You're going to need to be patient; depending on how much quicksand is around you, it could take several minutes or even hours to slowly, methodically get yourself out.

    Archive 2007-09-01

  • If you're stuck in quicksand, frantic movements will only hurt your cause.

    Archive 2007-09-01

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Comments

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  • Oh! I love the etymology for this.

    July 12, 2012