sad sack

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US 1920s.[1] Popularized by Sad Sack, a cartoon character and eponymous comic strip published originally June 1942 in Yank, the Army Weekly, a US Army publication for soldiers, and later syndicated in the US 1940s and 1950s. Presumably from vulgar “sad sack of shit”; Cartoonist Sgt. George Baker said he took from a “longer phrase, of a derogatory nature”. The term originally referred to a well-meaning but inept soldier.


sad sack (plural sad sacks)

  1. (informal) An incompetent or inept person.
  2. (informal) A perennial victim of misfortune.


  1. ^ sad” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).
  • sad sack” in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Online