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

  • noun A discharge of lightning accompanied by thunder.
  • noun A flash of lightning conceived as a bolt or dart hurled from the heavens.
  • noun A startling, forceful action.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To strike with or as with lightning.
  • noun A flash of lightning with the accompanying crash of thunder: so called because regarded as due to the hurling of a bolt or shaft at the object struck by the lightning. See def. 2.
  • noun The imaginary bolt or shaft (often regarded as a stone) conceived as the material agent or substance of a flash of lightning, and the cause of the accompanying crash of thunder: an attribute of Zeus or Jupiter as the god of thunder (Jupiter Tonans); specifically, in heraldry, a bearing representing a thunderbolt more or less like that of Jupiter.
  • noun A stone or other hard concretion of distinctive shape, usually tapering or spear-like, found in the ground, and supposed in popular superstition to have been the material substance of a thunderbolt (in sense 2), and to have fallen from heaven with the lightning.
  • noun Figuratively, one who is daring or irresistible; one who acts with fury or with sudden and resistless force.
  • noun A dreadful threat, denunciation, censure, or the like, proceeding from some high authority; a fulmination.
  • noun plural The white campion (Lychnis vespertina), the corn-poppy (Papaver Rhœas), or the bladder-campion (Silene Cucubalus)—the last so named from the slight report made by exploding the inflated calyx.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A shaft of lightning; a brilliant stream of electricity passing from one part of the heavens to another, or from the clouds to the earth.
  • noun Something resembling lightning in suddenness and effectiveness.
  • noun Vehement threatening or censure; especially, ecclesiastical denunciation; fulmination.
  • noun (Paleon.) A belemnite, or thunderstone.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a long-horned beetle (Arhopalus fulminans) whose larva bores in the trunk of oak and chestnut trees. It is brownish and bluish-black, with W-shaped whitish or silvery markings on the elytra.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A flash of lightning accompanied by a crash of thunder.
  • noun figuratively An event that is terrible, horrific or unexpected.
  • noun soccer A very powerful shot.
  • noun paleontology A belemnite, or thunderstone.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a shocking surprise
  • noun a discharge of lightning accompanied by thunder


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From thunder + bolt.


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  • That which we call the thunderbolt is true as regards all the passions.

    Bouvard and Pécuchet A Tragi-comic Novel of Bourgeois Life Gustave Flaubert 1850

  • Their downfall came sudden and terrible like “a thunderbolt from the blue.”

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night 2006

  • However, the word thunderbolt has survived to us from the days when people still believed that the thing which did the damage during a thunderstorm was really and truly a gigantic white-hot bolt or arrow; and, as there is a natural tendency in human nature to fit an existence to every word, people even now continue to imagine that there must be actually something or other somewhere called a thunderbolt.

    Falling in Love With Other Essays on More Exact Branches of Science Grant Allen 1873

  • But those few fatal words, -- "The President Assassinated," -- fell upon us like a thunderbolt from a cloudless sky, so stunning us with the violence of the blow, that we heard as though we heard not.

    A Sermon, Occasioned by the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States. 1865

  • Little Angel, since dog’s thunderbolt is going to cleave us, how much for your little sister?

    Think Progress » First same-sex couple weds in D.C. 2010

  • "Then he showed us round his place -- I forget how many hundreds of acres of vines, and into the great building with the presses and pumps and casks and the huge barrel they call the thunderbolt -- and about seven o'clock we walked back to Darbisson to dinner, carrying our wine with us.

    Widdershins Oliver [pseud.] Onions 1917

  • A thunderbolt was a thunderbolt, and both kinds killed.

    Timegod's World Modesitt, L. E. 1992

  • However that question may be answered, there remains the fact that the thunderbolt was a symbol of the power of Zeus, and its figure uniformly accompanied the effigy of the god.

    The New England Magazine Volume 1, No. 6, June, 1886, Bay State Monthly Volume 4, No. 6, June, 1886 Various

  • As an oak falls headlong when uprooted by the lightning flash of father Jove, and there is a terrible smell of brimstone — no man can help being dismayed if he is standing near it, for a thunderbolt is a very awful thing — even so did Hector fall to earth and bite the dust.

    The Iliad of Homer 1898

  • The surrounding mountains play an interminable game of which the thunderbolt is the football.

    The Mountebank William John Locke 1896


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