from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Small loose grains of worn or disintegrated rock.
  • noun Geology A sedimentary material, finer than a granule and coarser than silt, with grains between 0.06 and 2.0 millimeters in diameter.
  • noun A tract of land covered with sand, as a beach or desert.
  • noun The loose, granular, gritty particles in an hourglass.
  • noun Moments of allotted time or duration.
  • noun Slang Courage; stamina; perseverance.
  • noun A light grayish brown to yellowish gray.
  • transitive verb To sprinkle or cover with or as if with sand.
  • transitive verb To polish or scrape with sand or sandpaper.
  • transitive verb To mix with sand.
  • transitive verb To fill up (a harbor) with sand.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A message; a mission; an embassy.
  • noun Water-worn detritus, finer than that to which the name gravel would ordinarily be applied: but the line between sand and gravel cannot be distinctly drawn, and they frequently occur intermingled.
  • noun A tract or region composed principally of sand, like the deserts of Arabia; or a tract of sand exposed by the ebb of the tide: as, the Libyan Sands; the Solway sands.
  • noun Any mass of small hard particles: as, the sand of an hour-glass; sand used in blotting.
  • noun In founding, a mixture of sand, clay, and other materials used in making molds for casting metals.
  • noun Sandstone: so used in the Pennsylvania petroleum region, where the various beds of petroliferous sandstone are called oil-sands, and designated as first, second, third, etc., in the order in which they are struck in the borings. Similarly, the gas-bearing sandstones are called gas-sands.
  • noun plural The moments, minutes, or small portions of time; lifetime; allotted period of life: in allusion to the sand in the hour-glass used for measuring time.
  • noun Force of character; stamina; grit; endurance; pluck.
  • To sprinkle with sand; specifically, to powder with sand, as a freshly painted surface in order to make it resemble stone, or fresh writing to keep it from blotting.
  • To add sand to: as, to sand sugar.
  • To drive upon a sand-bank.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Fine particles of stone, esp. of siliceous stone, but not reduced to dust; comminuted stone in the form of loose grains, which are not coherent when wet.
  • noun rare A single particle of such stone.
  • noun The sand in the hourglass; hence, a moment or interval of time; the term or extent of one's life.
  • noun Tracts of land consisting of sand, like the deserts of Arabia and Africa; also, extensive tracts of sand exposed by the ebb of the tide.
  • noun Slang Courage; pluck; grit.
  • noun (Zoöl.) the Japanese badger (Meles ankuma).
  • noun A long bag filled with sand, used as a club by assassins.
  • noun soap mixed with sand, made into a ball for use at the toilet.
  • noun (Chem.) A bath in which the body is immersed in hot sand.
  • noun a thick layer of sand, whether deposited naturally or artificially; specifically, a thick layer of sand into which molten metal is run in casting, or from a reducing furnace.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a collective name for numerous species of limicoline birds, such as the sandpipers, plovers, tattlers, and many others; -- called also shore birds.
  • noun a process of engraving and cutting glass and other hard substances by driving sand against them by a steam jet or otherwise; also, the apparatus used in the process.
  • noun A box carried on locomotives, from which sand runs on the rails in front of the driving wheel, to prevent slipping.
  • noun (Bot.) a tropical American tree (Hura crepitans). Its fruit is a depressed many-celled woody capsule which, when completely dry, bursts with a loud report and scatters the seeds. See Illust. of Regma.
  • noun (Zoöl.) an American anomuran crustacean (Hippa talpoidea) which burrows in sandy seabeaches. It is often used as bait by fishermen. See Illust. under Anomura.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a tubular vessel having a calcareous coating, and connecting the oral ambulacral ring with the madreporic tubercle. It appears to be excretory in function.
  • noun (Zoöl.), [Prov. Eng.] the redshank.
  • noun (Zoöl.) Same as Sand saucer, below.
  • noun (Zoöl.) A land crab, or ocypodian.
  • noun (Far.) a crack extending downward from the coronet, in the wall of a horse's hoof, which often causes lameness.
  • noun (Zoöl.) any one of several species of large terrestrial crickets of the genus Stenophelmatus and allied genera, native of the sandy plains of the Western United States.
  • noun (Zoöl.) any ophidioid fish. See Illust. under Ophidioid.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a small American flounder (Limanda ferruginea); -- called also rusty dab. The name is also applied locally to other allied species.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a small etheostomoid fish of the Ohio valley (Ammocrypta pellucida).
  • noun (Zoöl.) any one of several species of small flat circular sea urchins, which live on sandy bottoms, especially Echinarachnius parma of the American coast.
  • noun drifting sand; also, a mound or bank of drifted sand.


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

[Middle English, from Old English.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English, from Old English sand, from Proto-Germanic *samdaz (compare West Frisian sân, Dutch zand, German Sand, Danish sand), from Proto-Indo-European *sámh₂dʰos (compare Latin sabulum, Ancient Greek ἄμαθος (ámathos)), from *sem- 'to pour' (compare English dialectal samel 'sand bottom', Old Irish to-ess-sem 'to pour out', Latin sentina 'bilge water', Lithuanian sémti 'to scoop', Ancient Greek ἀμάω (amáō) 'to gather', ἄμη (amē) 'water bucket').


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word sand.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • She was the best girl I ever see, and had the most sand. HF 29

    December 7, 2006

  • Is defined by the Udden-Wentworth scale as being composed of grains that are between 62.5 micrometres and 2 millimetres in diameter.

    February 26, 2007

  • When I think of Palestine, I think of Biblical characters truding through sand. See skipvia's Free Association list.

    February 7, 2008

  • "Water-worn detritus, finer than that to which the name gravel would ordinarily be applied: but the line between sand and gravel cannot be distinctly drawn, and they frequently occur intermingled."

    You just feel that this definition is some kind of compromise following a tea-room donnybrook over grainy particle nomenclature at the Century office.

    July 13, 2012

  • George Sand wrote many novels about intermingling! Here's Chopin you would know about it!

    Otherwise refer to sand in Annie Dillard's 'For the Time Being' for any needed reference.

    July 13, 2012

  • *draws a distinct line in the sand*

    Actually, this reminds me of the sorites paradox. Maybe it was written by Charles Sanders Peirce.

    July 13, 2012

  • It probably was wirtten by Charles Sanders Peirce though he perhaps was flinchish about the implcations.

    July 13, 2012

  • In the movie version he'll probably be played by Julian Sands--he played Liszt in Impromptu (a little film about Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin and her friends).

    July 13, 2012

  • “Why is there sand in deserts? Because windblown sand collects in every low place, and deserts are low, like beaches,” Dillard writes.

    She wants us to ponder such accretion.

    Another heap of trouble! How heapful will that be!

    Actually, it (preforms) rocks!

    July 13, 2012