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

  • 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  • noun A metal bar or rod in the mechanism of a lock that is thrown or withdrawn by turning the key.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.
  • transitive verb To pass (flour, for example) through a sieve.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • Like a bolt or arrow: as, “rising bolt from his seat,”
  • Suddenly; with sudden meeting or collision.
  • 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.
  • noun A sieve; a machine for sifting flour.
  • noun In the English inns of court, a hypothetical point or case discussed for the sake of practice.
  • 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.


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

[Middle English, from Old English, heavy arrow.]

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

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

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.


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

    January 31, 2007

  • "Swallow hastily"

    August 13, 2007

  • A short arrow fired from a crossbow.

    August 24, 2008

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

    August 24, 2008

  • "bolt" in Hungarian means: shop / store

    August 1, 2012