1. a container or receptacle of leather, plastic, cloth, paper, etc., capable of being closed at the mouth; pouch.
  2. something resembling or suggesting such a receptacle.
  3. a suitcase or other portable container for carrying articles, as in traveling.
  4. a purse or moneybag.
  5. the amount or quantity a bag can hold.
  6. any of various measures of capacity.
  7. a sac, as in an animal body.
  8. an udder.
  9. Slang. a small glassine or cellophane envelope containing a narcotic drug or a mixture of narcotics.
  10. something hanging in a loose, pouchlike manner, as skin or cloth; a baggy part: He had bags under his eyes from lack of sleep.
  11. Baseball. base1(def 8b).
  12. Hunting. the amount of game taken, especially by one hunter in one hunting trip or over a specified period.
  13. Slang.
    1. a person’s avocation, hobby, major interest, or obsession: Jazz isn’t my bag.
    2. a person’s mood or frame of mind: The boss is in a mean bag today.
    3. an environment, condition, or situation.
  14. bags,
    1. Informal.plenty; much; many (usually followed by of): bags of time; bags of money.
    2. Slang.trousers.

verb (used without object), bagged, bag·ging.

  1. to swell or bulge: A stiff breeze made the sails bag out.
  2. to hang loosely like an empty bag: His socks bagged at the ankles.
  3. to pack groceries or other items into a bag.

verb (used with object), bagged, bag·ging.

  1. to cause to swell or bulge; distend: The wind bagged the curtain.
  2. to put into a bag.
  3. Informal. to kill or catch, as in hunting: I bagged my first deer when I was a teenager.
  4. Slang. to quit, abandon, or skip (often used in the phrase bag it): I bagged my math class today. We’d better bag the deal. I was working too hard so I decided to bag it.
  5. Theater. clew(def 9a).


  1. bags! British Slang. (used to lay first claim to something): Bags it! Bags, I go first!

  1. 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.
  2. bag of bones, an emaciated person or animal.
  3. 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.
  4. in the bag, Informal. virtually certain; assured; definite: Her promotion is in the bag. The sale of the house is in the bag.
  5. 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.
  6. old bag, Slang. an unattractive, often slatternly woman: a gossipy old bag.

  1. Bachelor of Agriculture.


  1. a flexible container with an opening at one end
  2. Also called: bagful the contents of or amount contained in such a container
  3. any of various measures of quantity, such as a bag containing 1 hundredweight of coal
  4. a piece of portable luggage
  5. short for handbag
  6. 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
  7. any pouch or sac forming part of the body of an animal, esp the udder of a cow
  8. hunting the quantity of quarry taken in a single hunting trip or by a single hunter
  9. derogatory, slang an ugly or bad-tempered woman (often in the phrase old bag)
  10. slang a measure of marijuana, heroin, etc, in folded paper
  11. slang a person’s particular taste, field of skill, interest, activity, etcblues is his bag
  12. bag and baggage informal
    1. with all one’s belongings
    2. entirely
  13. a bag of bones a lean creature
  14. in the bag slang almost assured of succeeding or being obtained
  15. the bag of tricks or the whole bag of tricks informal every device; everything

verb bags, bagging or bagged

  1. (tr) to put into a bag
  2. to bulge or cause to bulge; swell
  3. (tr) to capture or kill, as in hunting
  4. (tr) to catch, seize, or steal
  5. (intr) to hang loosely; sag
  6. (tr) to achieve or accomplishshe bagged seven birdies
  7. (tr) British informal to reserve or secure the right to do or to have somethinghe bagged the best chair
  8. (tr) Australian slang to criticize; disparage

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.


  1. An anatomical sac or pouch, such as the udder of a cow.

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
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