a bed of soft or loose sand saturated with water and having considerable depth, yielding under weight and therefore tending to suck down any object resting on its surface.

Origin of quicksand

First recorded in 1275–1325, quicksand is from the Middle English word qwykkesand. See quick, sand
Related formsquick·sand·y, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for quicksand

Contemporary Examples of quicksand

Historical Examples of quicksand

  • That green strip of willow is the edge of a quicksand where no one knows the depth.

    The Treasure Trail

    Marah Ellis Ryan

  • The boys will think a quicksand has swallowed us, and no one will be sleeping there at Soledad.

    The Treasure Trail

    Marah Ellis Ryan

  • In some places it seemed as bottomless as a pit of quicksand.

    War from the Inside

    Frederick L. (Frederick Lyman) Hitchcock

  • She had married the solid Hermie, and he had turned out to be quicksand.


    Edna Ferber

  • You never know where you'll meet a quicksand, or a hole in the ice.

    The Mermaid

    Lily Dougall

British Dictionary definitions for quicksand



a deep mass of loose wet sand that submerges anything on top of it
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 quicksand

c.1300, from Middle English quyk "living" (see quick (adj.)) + sond "sand" (see sand (n.)). Old English had cwecesund, but this might have meant "lively strait of water."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

quicksand in Science



A deep bed of loose, smoothly rounded sand grains, saturated with water and forming a soft, shifting mass that yields easily to pressure and tends to engulf objects resting on its surface. Although it is possible for a person to drown while mired in quicksand, the human body is less dense than any quicksand and is thus not drawn or sucked beneath the surface as is sometimes popularly believed.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.