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  1. a large bag of strong, coarsely woven material, as for grain, potatoes, or coal.
  2. the amount a sack holds.
  3. a bag: a sack of candy.
  4. Slang. dismissal or discharge, as from a job: to get the sack.
  5. Slang. bed: I bet he's still in the sack.
  6. Also sacque.
    1. a loose-fitting dress, as a gown with a Watteau back, especially one fashionable in the late 17th century and much of the 18th century.
    2. a loose-fitting coat, jacket, or cape.
  7. Baseball. a base.
  8. South Midland U.S. the udder of a cow.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to put into a sack or sacks.
  2. Football. to tackle (the quarterback) behind the line of scrimmage before the quarterback is able to throw a pass.
  3. Slang. to dismiss or discharge, as from a job.
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Verb Phrases
  1. sack out, Slang. to go to bed; fall asleep.
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  1. hit the sack, Slang. to go to bed; go to sleep: He never hits the sack before midnight.
  2. leave holding the sack. bag(def 28).
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Origin of sack1

before 1000; 1940–45 for def 5; Middle English sak (noun), sakken (v.), Old English sacc (noun) < Latin saccus bag, sackcloth < Greek sákkos < Semitic; compare Hebrew śaq
Related formssack·like, adjective
Can be confusedbag sac sack sacque

Regional variation note

See bag.


verb (used with object)
  1. to pillage or loot after capture; plunder: to sack a city.
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  1. the plundering of a captured place; pillage: the sack of Troy.
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Origin of sack2

1540–50; < Middle French phrase mettre à sac to put to pillage; sac, in this sense < Italian sacco looting, loot, shortened form of saccomano < Middle High German sakman pillager (conformed to sacco sack1)


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1. spoil, despoil. See rob. 2. looting; destruction, ruin.


  1. a strong light-colored wine formerly imported from Spain and the Canary Islands.
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Origin of sack3

1525–35; < French (vin) sec dry (wine) < Latin siccus dry; cf. sec1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

fire, discharge, dismiss, terminate, expel, loot, strip, drop, cashier, bounce, can, ax, ship, maraud, demolish, fleece, desolate, devastate, desecrate, pillage

Examples from the Web for sack

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for sack


  1. a large bag made of coarse cloth, thick paper, etc, used as a container
  2. Also called: sackful the amount contained in a sack, sometimes used as a unit of measurement
    1. a woman's loose tube-shaped dress
    2. Also called: sacquea woman's full loose hip-length jacket, worn in the 18th and mid-20th centuries
  3. short for rucksack
  4. cricket, Australian a run scored off a ball not struck by the batsman: allotted to the team as an extra and not to the individual batsmanAlso called (in Britain and certain other countries): bye
  5. the sack informal dismissal from employment
  6. a slang word for bed
  7. hit the sack slang to go to bed
  8. rough as sacks NZ uncouth
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verb (tr)
  1. informal to dismiss from employment
  2. to put into a sack or sacks
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Derived Formssacklike, adjective

Word Origin

Old English sacc, from Latin saccus bag, from Greek sakkos; related to Hebrew saq


  1. the plundering of a place by an army or mob, usually involving destruction, slaughter, etc
  2. American football a tackle on a quarterback which brings him down before he has passed the ball
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  1. (tr) to plunder and partially destroy (a place)
  2. American football to tackle and bring down a quarterback before he has passed the ball
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Derived Formssacker, noun

Word Origin

C16: from French phrase mettre à sac, literally: to put (loot) in a sack, from Latin saccus sack 1


  1. archaic or trademark any dry white wine formerly imported into Britain from SW Europe
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Word Origin

C16 wyne seck, from French vin sec dry wine, from Latin siccus dry
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 sack


"large bag," Old English sacc (West Saxon), sec (Mercian), sæc (Old Kentish) "large cloth bag," also "sackcloth," from Proto-Germanic *sakkiz (cf. Middle Dutch sak, Old High German sac, Old Norse sekkr, but Gothic sakkus probably is directly from Greek), an early borrowing from Latin saccus (also source of Old French sac, Spanish saco, Italian sacco), from Greek sakkos, from Semitic (cf. Hebrew saq "sack").

The wide spread of the word is probably due to the Biblical story of Joseph, in which a sack of corn figures (Gen. xliv). Baseball slang sense of "a base" is attested from 1913. Slang meaning "bunk, bed" is from 1825, originally nautical. The verb meaning "go to bed" is recorded from 1946. Sack race attested from 1805.

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"a dismissal from work," 1825, from sack (n.1), perhaps from the notion of the worker going off with his tools in a bag; the original formula was to give (someone) the sack. It is attested earlier in French (on luy a donné son sac, 17c.) and Dutch (iemand de zak geven).

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"sherry," 1530s, alteration of French vin sec "dry wine," from Latin siccus "dry" (see siccative).

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"to plunder," 1540s, from Middle French sac, in the phrase mettre à sac "put it in a bag," a military leader's command to his troops to plunder a city (parallel to Italian sacco, with the same range of meaning), from Vulgar Latin *saccare "to plunder," originally "to put plundered things into a sack," from Latin saccus "bag" (see sack (n.1)). The notion is probably of putting booty in a bag.

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"plunder; act of plundering, the plundering of a city or town after storming and capture," 1540s, from French sac "pillage, plunder," from Italian sacco (see sack (v.1)).

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"put in a bag," late 14c., from sack (n.1). Related: Sacked; sacking.

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"dismiss from work," 1841, from sack (n.2). Related: Sacked; sacking.

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type of U.S. football play, 1969, from sack (v.1) in the sense of "to plunder" or sack (v.2) on the notion of "put in a bag." As a noun from 1972.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with sack


In addition to the idiom beginning with sack

  • sack out

also see:

  • get the ax (sack)
  • hit the hay (sack)
  • sad sack
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.