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bolt from the blue, a

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Also, a bolt out of the blue. A sudden, unexpected event. For example, Bill's dropping his life insurance was a bolt from the blue for his wife. This metaphoric term alludes to totally unforeseen lightning or thunder from a cloudless (blue) sky. [First half of 1800s]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

MORE ABOUT BOLT FROM THE BLUE A

What does a bolt from the blue mean?

The phrase a bolt from the blue means a sudden event that was completely unexpected, as in Jordan’s sudden burst of intensity was like a bolt from the blue, catching everyone off guard. 

Because a bolt from the blue is used to specifically refer to sudden surprises, it is often accompanied by words such as shocking, stunning, unexpected, and surprising.

The phrase a bolt out of the blue is also used.

Example: The surprise appearance of Santa Claus was a wonderful bolt from the blue for the children.

Where does a bolt from the blue come from?

The first records of the phrase a bolt from the blue come from around 1837. A bolt from the blue is a metaphorical phrase referring to a lightning bolt suddenly coming from a clear sky, something you wouldn’t expect. The word bolt refers to a lightning bolt (a flash of lightning), and the blue refers to a clear sky (a stormy sky might be grey or black).

A bolt from the blue often appears in news stories and other descriptions of unexpected events. You might use this phrase when you are surprised by a sudden event that you didn’t expect, like a tornado coming through the area or a surprise birthday party your friends throw for you. (If you want to throw us a surprise party, we promise to be surprised!)

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What are some other forms related to bolt from the blue?

  • a bolt out of the blue

What are some synonyms for bolt from the blue?

What are some words that share a root or word element with bolt from the blue

What are some words that often get used in discussing bolt from the blue?

How is a bolt from the blue used in real life?

A bolt from the blue is a common phrase used to refer to sudden surprises that the speaker didn’t see coming.

Try using a bolt from the blue!

Is a bolt from the blue used correctly in the following sentence?

The early snow was a bolt from the blue that farmers had been preparing for for weeks.

How to use bolt from the blue, a in a sentence

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