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A.Word.A.Daywith Anu Garg
1. A very happy person.
2. One who deals in sand.
From Old English sand + boy. Earliest documented use: 1796.
The term is typically used in the construction “happy as a sandboy”. Who was this sandboy and why was he so happy? If you have ever seen a child building sandcastles or digging canals on a beach, it would seem obvious.
The reality is more grim. In Dickensian England, a child was more likely to be toiling in a factory or on the streets than playing on the beach: Consider these lines from a 1804 poem “The Rider and Sand-Boy: A Tale”
A poor shoeless urchin, half-starved and sun-tanned,
Went by the inn-window crying, “Buy my fine sand!”
Originally, a sandboy was someone, not necessarily a child, who delivered sand to a pub, for example, where it could be used to soak up spilled drinks. Sandboys were paid for their labor in drinks. After a hard day’s labor, finally sitting down with a drink in hand and you can see why they’d be very happy. There’s also the term sand-happy, meaning very drunk.
Did you hear about the sandboy’s career change when he became an adult?
He now deals in sleep.
“And the carefree Costa Ricans, 12th in the contentment league, are not alone. Arabs and ex-pats in the United Arab Emirates (17th) are happy as sandboys. The UK rates only 18th, below Luxembourg (a made-up country), Belgium (ditto), Israel (all right if you’re not an Arab), the USA (ditto if not black), and Austria (the dull country).”
Paul Routledge; Stuff Your “Happy” Nations. GB’s Best; The Daily Mirror (London, UK); Apr 6, 2012.
See more usage examples of sandboy in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering. -Henri Frederic Amiel, philosopher and writer (27 Sep 1821-1881)