Definitions

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

  • adj. Dazzling or stunning in effect.
  • adj. Medicine Occurring suddenly and severely. Used of a disease.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having an awesome and overwhelming effect.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Sudden and overwhelming in effect; like a lightning-stroke.
  • Specifically, in pathology, beginning in a very sudden and severe form: said of disease.

Etymologies

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

French, from present participle of foudroyer, to strike with lightning, from foudre, lightning, from Old French fouldre, from Latin fulgur, from fulgēre, to flash; see bhel-1 in Indo-European roots.

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