1580s, from sand (n.) + bag (n.).
1860, "furnish with sandbags," from sandbag (n.). Meaning "pretend weakness," 1970s perhaps is extended from poker-playing sense of "refrain from raising at the first opportunity in hopes of raising more steeply later" (1940), which perhaps is from sandbagger in the sense of "bully or ruffian who uses a sandbag as a weapon to knock his intended victim unconscious" (1882). Hence "to fell or stun with a blow from a sandbag" (1887). Related: Sandbagged; sandbagging.
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