1 [bohlt]
a movable bar or rod that when slid into a socket fastens a door, gate, etc.
the part of a lock that is shot from and drawn back into the case, as by the action of the key.
any of several types of strong fastening rods, pins, or screws, usually threaded to receive a nut.
a sudden dash, run, flight, or escape.
a sudden desertion from a meeting, political party, social movement, etc.
a length of woven goods, especially as it comes on a roll from the loom.
a roll of wallpaper.
Bookbinding. the three edges of a folded sheet that must be cut so that the leaves can be opened.
a rod, bar, or plate that closes the breech of a breechloading rifle, especially a sliding rod or bar that shoves a cartridge into the firing chamber as it closes the breech.
a jet of water, molten glass, etc.
an arrow, especially a short, heavy one for a crossbow.
a shaft of lightning; thunderbolt.
a length of timber to be cut into smaller pieces.
a slice from a log, as a short, round piece of wood used for a chopping block.
verb (used with object)
to fasten with or as with a bolt.
to discontinue support of or participation in; break with: to bolt a political party.
to shoot or discharge (a missile), as from a crossbow or catapult.
to utter hastily; say impulsively; blurt out.
to swallow (one's food or drink) hurriedly: She bolted her breakfast and ran to school.
to make (cloth, wallpaper, etc.) into bolts.
Fox Hunting. (of hounds) to force (a fox) into the open.
verb (used without object)
to make a sudden, swift dash, run, flight, or escape; spring away suddenly: The rabbit bolted into its burrow.
to break away, as from one's political party.
to eat hurriedly or without chewing.
Horticulture. to produce flowers or seeds prematurely.
Archaic. with sudden meeting or collision; suddenly.
bolt from the blue, a sudden and entirely unforeseen event: His decision to leave college was a bolt from the blue for his parents. Also, bolt out of the blue.
bolt upright, stiffly upright; rigidly straight: The explosive sound caused him to sit bolt upright in his chair.
shoot one's bolt, Informal. to make an exhaustive effort or expenditure: The lawyer shot his bolt the first day of the trial and had little to say thereafter.

before 1000; Middle English (noun, v., and adv.), Old English (noun), cognate with Dutch bout, German Bolz

bolter, noun
boltless, adjective
boltlike, adjective

22. dash, rush, run, fly, speed, scoot, flee, bound. Unabridged


2 [bohlt]
verb (used with object)
to sift through a cloth or sieve.
to examine or search into, as if by sifting.

1150–1200; Middle English bulten < Old French bul(e)ter, metathetic variant of *buteler < Germanic; compare Middle High German biuteln to sift, derivative of biutel, Old High German būtil bag, whence German Beutel

bolter, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To bolt
World English Dictionary
bolt1 (bəʊlt)
1.  a bar that can be slid into a socket to lock a door, gate, etc
2.  a bar or rod that forms part of a locking mechanism and is moved by a key or a knob
3.  a metal rod or pin that has a head at one end and a screw thread at the other to take a nut
4.  a sliding bar in a breech-loading firearm that ejects the empty cartridge, replaces it with a new one, and closes the breech
5.  a flash of lightning
6.  a sudden start or movement, esp in order to escape: they made a bolt for the door
7.  (US) a sudden desertion, esp from a political party
8.  a roll of something, such as cloth, wallpaper, etc
9.  an arrow, esp for a crossbow
10.  printing a folded edge on a sheet of paper that is removed when cutting to size
11.  mechanical engineering short for expansion bolt
12.  a bolt from the blue a sudden, unexpected, and usually unwelcome event
13.  shoot one's bolt to exhaust one's effort: the runner had shot his bolt
14.  (tr) to secure or lock with or as with a bolt or bolts: bolt your doors
15.  (tr) to eat hurriedly: don't bolt your food
16.  (intr; usually foll by from or out) to move or jump suddenly: he bolted from the chair
17.  (intr) (esp of a horse) to start hurriedly and run away without warning
18.  (tr) to roll or make (cloth, wallpaper, etc) into bolts
19.  (US) to desert (a political party, etc)
20.  (intr) (of cultivated plants) to produce flowers and seeds prematurely
21.  (tr) to cause (a wild animal) to leave its lair; start: terriers were used for bolting rats
22.  stiffly, firmly, or rigidly (archaic except in the phrase bolt upright)
[Old English bolt arrow; related to Old High German bolz bolt for a crossbow]

bolt or boult2 (bəʊlt)
1.  to pass (flour, a powder, etc) through a sieve
2.  to examine and separate
[C13: from Old French bulter, probably of Germanic origin; compare Old High German būtil bag]
boult or boult2
[C13: from Old French bulter, probably of Germanic origin; compare Old High German būtil bag]
'bolter or boult2
'boulter or boult2

Bolt (bəʊlt)
1.  Robert (Oxton). 1924--95, British playwright. His plays include A Man for All Seasons (1960) and he also wrote a number of screenplays
2.  Usain (juːˈseɪn). born 1986, Jamaican athlete: winner of the 100 metres and the 200 metres in the 2008 Olympic Games, setting world records at both distances

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

O.E. bolt "short, stout arrow with a heavy head;" also "crossbow for throwing bolts," from P.Gmc. *bultas (cf. O.N. bolti, Dan. bolt, Du. bout, Ger. Bolzen), perhaps from PIE base *bheld- "to knock, strike" (cf. Lith. beldu "I knock," baldas "pole for striking"). Applied since M.E. to other short metal
rods (especially those with knobbed ends). From the notion of an arrow's flight comes the lightning bolt (1530s). A bolt of canvas (c.1400) was so called for its shape. Adverbial phrase bolt upright is from late 14c.

from bolt (n.) in its various senses; from a crossbow arrow's quick flight comes the meaning "to spring, to make a quick start" (early 13c.). Via the notion of runaway horses, this came to mean "to leave suddenly" (early 19c.). Meaning "to gulp down food" is from 1794. The
meaning "to secure by means of a bolt" is from 1580s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with bolt, also see nuts and bolts; shoot one's bolt.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
The velocity alone can make a loose bolt the equivalent of a rail gun
In a lightning bolt of inspiration, one part of humankind turned its back on
  foraging and embraced agriculture.
Scholars have less to say on what seems a bolt from the blue.
The energy released by a sprite amounts to a fraction of what comes from a
  lightning bolt.
Image for bolt
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature