from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To pass (flour, for example) through a sieve.
  • noun A bar made of wood or metal that slides into a socket and is used to fasten doors and gates.
  • noun A metal bar or rod in the mechanism of a lock that is thrown or withdrawn by turning the key.
  • noun A fastener consisting of a threaded pin or rod with a head at one end, designed to be inserted through holes in assembled parts and secured by a mated nut that is tightened by applying torque.
  • noun A sliding metal bar that positions the cartridge in breechloading rifles, closes the breech, and ejects the spent cartridge.
  • noun A similar device in any breech mechanism.
  • noun A short, heavy arrow with a thick head, used especially with a crossbow.
  • noun A flash of lightning; a thunderbolt.
  • noun A sudden or unexpected event.
  • noun A sudden movement toward or away.
  • noun A large roll of cloth of a definite length, especially as it comes from the loom.
  • intransitive verb To secure or lock with or as if with a bolt.
  • intransitive verb To arrange or roll (lengths of cloth, for example) on or in a bolt.
  • intransitive verb To eat (food) hurriedly and with little chewing; gulp.
  • intransitive verb To desert or withdraw support from (a political party).
  • intransitive verb To utter impulsively; blurt.
  • intransitive verb Archaic To shoot or discharge (a missile, such as an arrow).
  • intransitive verb To move or spring suddenly.
  • intransitive verb To start suddenly and run away.
  • intransitive verb To break away from an affiliation, as from a political party.
  • intransitive verb Botany To flower or produce seeds prematurely or develop a flowering stem from a rosette.
  • idiom (bolt from the blue) A sudden, shocking surprise or turn of events.
  • idiom (bolt upright) In a rigidly vertical position.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In archery, to loose too soon after drawing the bow. See hold.
  • In golf, to putt with so much force that the ball will go some distance past the hole if it fails to go into it.
  • To sift or pass through a sieve or bolter so as to separate the coarser from the finer particles, as bran from flour; sift out: as, to bolt meal; to bolt out the bran.
  • To examine or search into, as if by sifting; sift; examine thoroughly: sometimes with out, and often in an old proverbial expression, to bolt to the bran.
  • To moot, or bring forward for discussion, as in a moot-court. See bolting, 2.
  • To go off like a bolt or arrow; shoot forth suddenly; spring out with speed and suddenness: commonly followed by out: as, to bolt out of the house.
  • To spring aside or away suddenly; start and run off; make a bolt.
  • In politics, to withdraw from a nominating convention as a means of showing disapproval of its acts; hence, to cease to act in full accord with one's party; refuse to support a measure or candidate adopted by a majority of one's colleagues or party associates.
  • To fall suddenly, like a thunderbolt.
  • To run to seed prematurely, as early-sown root-crops (turnips, etc.), without the usual thickening of the root, or after it.
  • To send off like a bolt or arrow; shoot; discharge.
  • To start or spring (game); cause to bolt up or out, as hares, rabbits, and the like.
  • To expel; drive out suddenly.
  • To blurt out; ejaculate or utter hastily.
  • To swallow hurriedly or without chewing: as, to bolt one's food.
  • [After I., 3.] In politics, to break away from and refuse to support (the candidate, the ticket, or the platform presented by or in the name of the party to which one has hitherto adhered); leave or abandon: as, to bolt the presidential candidate.
  • To fasten or secure with a bolt or an iron pin, as a door, a plank, fetters, or anything else.
  • To fasten as with bolts; shackle; restrain.
  • noun An arrow; especially, in archery, the arrow of a crossbow, which was short and thick as compared with a shaft.
  • noun A thunderbolt; a stream of lightning: so named from its apparently darting like a bolt.
  • noun An elongated bullet for a rifled cannon.
  • noun A cylindrical jet, as of water or molten glass.
  • noun A metallic pin or rod, used to hold objects together. It generally has screwthreads cut at one end, and sometimes at both, to receive a nut.
  • noun A movable bar for fastening a door, gate, window-sash, or the like; specifically, that portion of a lock which is protruded from or drawn back within the case by the action of the key, and makes a fastening by being shot into a socket or keeper.
  • noun An iron to fasten the legs of a prisoner; a shackle.
  • noun In firearms: In a needle-gun, the sliding piece that thrusts the cartridge forward into the chamber and carries the firing-pin.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, from Old English, heavy arrow.
Middle English bulten, from Old French buleter, from Middle High German biuteln, from biutel, bag, purse.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Proto-Germanic *bultaz, perhaps from Proto-Indo-European *bheld- (“to knock, strike”). Akin to Dutch bout, German Bolz or Bolzen, Icelandic bolti, Danish bolt.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English bulten, from Anglo-Norman buleter, cognate with Middle High German biuteln ("to sift")



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  • "bolt" in Hungarian means: shop / store

    August 1, 2012

  • Also the surname of Usain Bolt, the best, and best-named, sprinter in the world.

    August 24, 2008

  • A short arrow fired from a crossbow.

    August 24, 2008

  • "Swallow hastily"

    August 13, 2007

  • Contronymic in the sense: bolted in place vs. bolted as a horse.

    January 31, 2007