Definition of sand in US English:



  • 1A loose granular substance, typically pale yellowish brown, resulting from the erosion of siliceous and other rocks and forming a major constituent of beaches, riverbeds, the seabed, and deserts.

    • ‘A part of him refused to entertain the notion that when he reached its edge, he would be confronted by miles of unrelenting desert sand.’
    • ‘The land was mostly flat and featureless; even the most desolate of the southern deserts had some rolling sand dunes and some cacti.’
    • ‘The work could be viewed both from boats cruising the bay and from a deserted beach lined with sand dunes.’
    • ‘Lanzarote is a volcanic island, which accounts for the dark sand on some beaches.’
    • ‘About two kilometers around the lake, the sand beach turned into rocks and there was a huge cliff over top.’
    • ‘It was beautiful, with golden sand and green vegetation further along the beach.’
    • ‘The main attraction of Wollogorang Station is the 80 km of yellow sand beaches and river estuaries’
    • ‘I look out at two miles of white sand beach, lapped by water with a visibility of 200 feet.’
    • ‘Should you prefer to keep your head above water, the beaches, with their fine golden sand and tall palms, won't disappoint.’
    • ‘The Umbra came to rest in the center of a small ring of rocks, its landing struts sinking into the fine desert sand.’
    • ‘On the beach we placed our towels on the golden sand.’
    • ‘With no collection system, mountains of empty plastic bottles pile up in sand dunes behind its white sand beaches.’
    • ‘There has been speculation the maverick Republicans use the isolated sand dunes along Ballyhornan beach to test fire guns and explosives.’
    • ‘Fort Lauderdale Beach Promenade along Atlantic Boulevard provides scenic and easy access to miles of golden sand beaches.’
    • ‘The beach, which I'd always pictured as miles of golden sand, is actually a short stretch of pebbles.’
    • ‘A perfect view of the ocean stretched out before her, the waves rolling slowly towards the rock and sand of the beach.’
    • ‘The action of the play takes place in a remote ramshackle beach house built on sand dunes.’
    • ‘This half-day guided tour will bring them right onto the golden sand dunes of Arabia in four-wheel drives.’
    • ‘There is another irony about desert sand dunes: They are a product of both aridity and water.’
    • ‘As loose as dry sand, such crystals often constitute the critical weak layer of a slab avalanche.’
    beach, sands, shore, seaside, seashore, foreshore, dunes, sand dunes, sandhills, desert
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1sands An expanse of sand, typically along a shore.
      in place names ‘White Sands’
      • ‘Exactly one month later, the Duke of Edinburgh officially opened the £1 million terminal and flew the Swift across the Goodwin Sands himself.’
    2. 1.2 A stratum of sandstone or compacted sand.
      • ‘OPEC's foot-dragging developing the 76% of world oil reserves under its sands and swamps is the biggest problem.’
      • ‘Several layers of sand, stone, concrete and a special membrane covering lie between the origins of the radon and the actual home in the miniature house.’
      • ‘The geology at Grimes Graves comprises a number of flint layers lying below sands and clays and interspersed between chalk.’
      • ‘The most complete fossil was that of an adult male skull lacking a lower jaw found embedded in ancient cemented sands.’
      • ‘The land is on a sand and gravel aquifer, several hundred metres from a reservoir that supplies drinking water to 650,000 homes in Dublin.’
      • ‘Beneath the dense vegetation are layer upon layer of sand, clay, and limestone that were deposited or created by ancient seas.’
      • ‘Century-old photographs show the dignified ruin of the memorial to one of ancient Egypt's few female rulers, a building then recently excavated from the sands.’
    3. 1.3technical Sediment whose particles are larger than silt (typically greater than 0.06 mm).
      • ‘Rust, scale, sand or other sediments can clog any activated charcoal filter.’
      • ‘Soils in this classification include fine sands, loamy sands and fine sandy loams.’
      • ‘In laboratory determinations, analyses are made for five size classes of sand, two of silt, and two of clay.’
      • ‘Rather, it permeates organic matter, binding it to silt, sand, and clay particles.’
      • ‘As wastewater is applied to the top of a bed of sand, gravity draws it down between the sand particles.’
    4. 1.4North American informal Firmness of purpose.
      ‘no one has the sand to stand against him’
      • ‘It is annoying when a guy with a novelty helmet thinks he has the sand to run a million dollar organization.’
    5. 1.5 A light yellow-brown color like that of sand.
      • ‘The ground was light sand that matched my tan clothes perfectly and the seats surrounding me were all made out of stone.’
      • ‘Nude tones like beige, sand and linen look best on skin that's moist, dewy and natural-looking.’
      • ‘Some ladies however prefer to go neutral in warm beige, sand and khaki combinations.’
      • ‘He is a rather portly man with wavy, sand coloured hair and a farmer's style shirt.’
      • ‘This newspaper has learned that the poisonous sand coloured Weever fish has arrived in local waters as a result of global warming.’
      • ‘The officer was built like a wrestler, with thinning sand coloured hair and a neatly groomed beard.’
      • ‘He had shaggy sand coloured hair, and today he was wearing another oddly coloured blazer from his collection.’
      • ‘The main bathroom is also at this level and features a stone wall, sand coloured tiles and rustic style walls.’
      • ‘The floor was golden brown and sand colored tile that was arranged in large squares and the small slivers of grout looked like gold.’


[with object]
  • 1Smooth or polish with sandpaper or a mechanical sander.

    ‘sand the rusty areas until you expose bare metal’
    • ‘Cover the patch with compound, allow it to dry, and sand it smooth after drying.’
    • ‘Lacquer, shellac, varnish stay on top of the wood; if worn off in traffic areas, usually the whole floor has to be sanded and refinished.’
    • ‘Start with 80-grit paper until the dent or scratch is sanded out, then finish-sand and feather into the surrounding area with 120-grit paper.’
    • ‘Some log furniture is sanded smooth, some are skipped peeled, some have the bark on and some are completely peeled.’
    • ‘Once the worst pitting and damage is filed away, he sands the metal with a coarse sandpaper.’
    • ‘Once it begins to wear out it is no longer sanding, but polishing, which will close the grain again.’
    • ‘Corion can be sanded lightly using number 800 sandpaper.’
    • ‘Attach plywood with panel adhesive and brads and sand it flush with front edge.’
    • ‘If the rust refuses to budge, use a #800 sand paper to sand the metal and repaint.’
    • ‘The gesso ground is sanded smooth so that acrylic glazes bead up and acquire a high-resolution look while emphasizing the picture plane.’
    • ‘After peeling the bark, the knots where the branches were need to be sanded to a very smooth finish.’
    • ‘Lightly sand the entire board smooth, but be careful not to remove too much finish from surrounding boards.’
    • ‘The surfaces are built from slender pieces of 3/4-inch-thick plywood laminated together, then sanded smooth.’
    • ‘Aluminum siding, however, has a baked enamel finish so it can be sanded or scuffed up, then primed with a special etching primer developed just for this purpose.’
    • ‘Sand blasting would leave marks and sand in the wood, which would have to be sanded out and filled in to obtain a smooth final finish.’
    • ‘Taking rough-grit sandpaper, sand the remaining membrane out of the gourd.’
    • ‘Once I had it smooth I used some 220 grit Wet and Dry and sanded the edges smooth under running water.’
    • ‘Joints and spackled areas should be thoroughly cured and sanded smooth.’
    • ‘The bookcase and shelves were sealed with a primer, then sanded smooth with medium-grade sandpaper.’
    • ‘Once it's completely dry, it can be sanded, drilled or cut with normal woodworking tools.’
  • 2Sprinkle or overlay with sand, to give better purchase on a surface.

    • ‘The heavily sanded Turf Moor surface is a cause for concern ahead of tonight's big kick-off.’
    • ‘Citing a similar accident the week before on Ring Road, one taxi driver speculated that if the city had sanded the road sooner, the accident wouldn't have happened.’


  • the sands of time

    • The allotted time.

      • ‘She must be wondering whether the sands of time are running out, ridiculous as it might sound for a youngster of her tender years.’
      • ‘Whatever the party members may think, soldiers in Germany must know the sands are running out.’
      • ‘In that respect he is fortunate that golf, more than any other major sport, is kind to the middle-aged, but even at the relatively young age of 43 the sands of time are running out.’


Old English, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zand and German Sand.