bag and baggage,
    1. with all one's personal property: When they went to collect the rent, they found he had left, bag and baggage.
    2. completely, totally: The equipment had disappeared, bag and baggage, without even the slightest trace.
    bag of bones, an emaciated person or animal.
    bag of tricks, a supply of expedient resources; stratagems: Maybe they will finally be honest with us, once they've run through their bag of tricks.
    in the bag, Informal. virtually certain; assured; definite: Her promotion is in the bag. The sale of the house is in the bag.
    leave holding the bag/sack, Informal. to force to bear the entire blame, responsibility, or loss that was to have been shared: His accomplices flew to South America and he was left holding the bag.
    old bag, Slang. an unattractive, often slatternly woman: a gossipy old bag.

Origin of bag

1200–50; 1920–25 for def 29; Middle English bagge < Old Norse baggi pack, bundle
Related formsbag·like, adjectiveun·bagged, adjective
Can be confusedbag sac sack sacque

Regional variation note

1. Although bag and sack are both used everywhere throughout the U.S., the more commonly used word in the North Midland U.S. is bag and in the South Midland is sack. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for in the bag



a flexible container with an opening at one end
Also called: bagful the contents of or amount contained in such a container
any of various measures of quantity, such as a bag containing 1 hundredweight of coal
a piece of portable luggage
short for handbag
anything that hangs loosely, sags, or is shaped like a bag, such as a loose fold of skin under the eyes or the bulging part of a sail
any pouch or sac forming part of the body of an animal, esp the udder of a cow
hunting the quantity of quarry taken in a single hunting trip or by a single hunter
derogatory, slang an ugly or bad-tempered woman (often in the phrase old bag)
slang a measure of marijuana, heroin, etc, in folded paper
slang a person's particular taste, field of skill, interest, activity, etcblues is his bag
bag and baggage informal
  1. with all one's belongings
  2. entirely
a bag of bones a lean creature
in the bag slang almost assured of succeeding or being obtained
the bag of tricks or the whole bag of tricks informal every device; everything

verb bags, bagging or bagged

(tr) to put into a bag
to bulge or cause to bulge; swell
(tr) to capture or kill, as in hunting
(tr) to catch, seize, or steal
(intr) to hang loosely; sag
(tr) to achieve or accomplishshe bagged seven birdies
(tr) British informal to reserve or secure the right to do or to have somethinghe bagged the best chair
(tr) Australian slang to criticize; disparage
See also bags

Word Origin for bag

C13: probably from Old Norse baggi; related to Old French bague bundle, pack, Medieval Latin baga chest, sack, Flemish bagge
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for in the bag



c.1200, bagge, from Old Norse baggi or a similar Scandinavian source; not found in other Germanic languages, perhaps ultimately of Celtic origin. Disparaging slang for "woman" dates from 1924 (though various specialized senses of this are much older). Meaning "person's area of interest or expertise" is 1964, from Black English slang, from jazz sense of "category," probably via notion of putting something in a bag.

To be left holding the bag (and presumably nothing else), "cheated, swindled" is attested by 1793. Many figurative senses are from the notion of the game bag (late 15c.) into which the product of the hunt was placed; e.g. the verb meaning "to kill game" (1814) and its colloquial extension to "catch, seize, steal" (1818). To let the cat out of the bag "reveal the secret" is from 1760.



mid-15c., "to swell out like a bag;" also "to put money in a bag," from bag (n.). Earliest verbal sense was "to be pregnant" (c.1400). Of clothes, "to hang loosely," 1824. For sense "catch, seize, steal," see bag (n.). Related: Bagged; bagging.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

in the bag in Medicine




An anatomical sac or pouch, such as the udder of a cow.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with in the bag

in the bag

Assured of success, virtually accomplished or won. For example, The coach thought the trophy was in the bag, or Our new contract is in the bag. The precise allusion in this idiom is unknown. One writer believes it refers to a completed transaction, that is, an item bought and wrapped in a bag. However, it may well refer to the game bag in which hunters place small game such as birds. [c. 1920] Also see under wrap up.


In addition to the idioms beginning with bag

  • bag and baggage
  • bag it
  • bag of tricks

also see:

  • brown bagger
  • grab bag
  • in the bag
  • leave holding the bag
  • let the cat out of the bag
  • mixed bag
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.