[ bohlt ]
See synonyms for: boltboltedbolter on

  1. a movable bar or rod that when slid into a socket fastens a door, gate, etc.

  2. the part of a lock that is shot from and drawn back into the case, as by the action of the key.

  1. any of several types of strong fastening rods, pins, or screws, usually threaded to receive a nut.

  2. a sudden dash, run, flight, or escape.

  3. a sudden desertion from a meeting, political party, social movement, etc.

  4. a length of woven goods, especially as it comes on a roll from the loom.

  5. a roll of wallpaper.

  6. Bookbinding. the three edges of a folded sheet that must be cut so that the leaves can be opened.

  7. a rod, bar, or plate that closes the breech of a breechloading rifle, especially a sliding rod or bar that shoves a cartridge into the firing chamber as it closes the breech.

  8. a jet of water, molten glass, etc.

  9. an arrow, especially a short, heavy one for a crossbow.

  10. a shaft of lightning; thunderbolt.

  11. a length of timber to be cut into smaller pieces.

  12. a slice from a log, as a short, round piece of wood used for a chopping block.

verb (used with object)
  1. to fasten with or as with a bolt.

  2. to discontinue support of or participation in; break with: to bolt a political party.

  1. to shoot or discharge (a missile), as from a crossbow or catapult.

  2. to utter hastily; say impulsively; blurt out.

  3. to swallow (one's food or drink) hurriedly: She bolted her breakfast and ran to school.

  4. to make (cloth, wallpaper, etc.) into bolts.

  5. Fox Hunting. (of hounds) to force (a fox) into the open.

verb (used without object)
  1. to make a sudden, swift dash, run, flight, or escape; spring away suddenly: The rabbit bolted into its burrow.

  2. to break away, as from one's political party.

  1. to eat hurriedly or without chewing.

  2. Horticulture. to produce flowers or seeds prematurely.

  1. Archaic. with sudden meeting or collision; suddenly.

Idioms about bolt

  1. bolt from the blue, a sudden and entirely unforeseen event: His decision to leave college was a bolt from the blue for his parents.: Also bolt out of the blue.

  2. bolt upright, stiffly upright; rigidly straight: The explosive sound caused him to sit bolt upright in his chair.

  1. shoot one's bolt, Informal. to make an exhaustive effort or expenditure: The lawyer shot his bolt the first day of the trial and had little to say thereafter.

Origin of bolt

First recorded before 1000; Middle English noun bolt, bold, bote “(crossbow) bolt, (lightning) bolt, (door) bolt, (cloth) bolt,” Old English bolt “arrow, (crossbow) bolt, catapult”; cognate with Dutch bout, German Bolz

Other words for bolt

Other words from bolt

  • bolter, noun
  • boltless, adjective
  • boltlike, adjective

Other definitions for bolt (2 of 2)

[ bohlt ]

verb (used with object)
  1. to sift through a cloth or sieve.

  2. to examine or search into, as if by sifting.

Origin of bolt

First recorded in 1150–1200; Middle English bulten, bolten, bouten, from Old French bul(e)ter, variant of unrecorded buteler, from Germanic; compare Middle High German biuteln “to sift,” derivative of biutel, Old High German būtil “bag,” whence German Beutel

Other words from bolt

  • bolter, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use bolt in a sentence

  • The flat top had come down a little; we put in a line of bolts, fastening the top of the tube to the outer casing.

  • The windows and doors, too, are secured with bolts and bars in a manner almost unknown in any town of Europe.

  • Some bolts were drawn and the two were admitted, the door being instantly barred behind them by an attendant.

    The Red Year | Louis Tracy
  • But thereupon they found themselves exposed to the arrows and cross-bolts that rained down thick and fast from the Walls.

  • A lake lay below us, and we were guarded by ten feet of water better than by bolts and bars.

    Chicot the Jester | Alexandre Dumas, Pere

British Dictionary definitions for bolt (1 of 3)


/ (bəʊlt) /

  1. a bar that can be slid into a socket to lock a door, gate, etc

  2. a bar or rod that forms part of a locking mechanism and is moved by a key or a knob

  1. a metal rod or pin that has a head at one end and a screw thread at the other to take a nut

  2. a sliding bar in a breech-loading firearm that ejects the empty cartridge, replaces it with a new one, and closes the breech

  3. a flash of lightning

  4. a sudden start or movement, esp in order to escape: they made a bolt for the door

  5. US a sudden desertion, esp from a political party

  6. a roll of something, such as cloth, wallpaper, etc

  7. an arrow, esp for a crossbow

  8. printing a folded edge on a sheet of paper that is removed when cutting to size

  9. mechanical engineering short for expansion bolt

  10. a bolt from the blue a sudden, unexpected, and usually unwelcome event

  11. shoot one's bolt to exhaust one's effort: the runner had shot his bolt

  1. (tr) to secure or lock with or as with a bolt or bolts: bolt your doors

  2. (tr) to eat hurriedly: don't bolt your food

  1. (intr; usually foll by from or out) to move or jump suddenly: he bolted from the chair

  2. (intr) (esp of a horse) to start hurriedly and run away without warning

  3. (tr) to roll or make (cloth, wallpaper, etc) into bolts

  4. US to desert (a political party, etc)

  5. (intr) (of cultivated plants) to produce flowers and seeds prematurely

  6. (tr) to cause (a wild animal) to leave its lair; start: terriers were used for bolting rats

  1. stiffly, firmly, or rigidly (archaic except in the phrase bolt upright)

Origin of bolt

Old English bolt arrow; related to Old High German bolz bolt for a crossbow

British Dictionary definitions for bolt (2 of 3)



/ (bəʊlt) /

  1. to pass (flour, a powder, etc) through a sieve

  2. to examine and separate

Origin of bolt

C13: from Old French bulter, probably of Germanic origin; compare Old High German būtil bag

Derived forms of bolt

  • bolter or boulter, noun

British Dictionary definitions for Bolt (3 of 3)


/ (bəʊlt) /

  1. Robert (Oxton). 1924–95, British playwright. His plays include A Man for All Seasons (1960) and he also wrote a number of screenplays

  2. Usain (juːˈseɪn). born 1986, Jamaican athlete: winner of the 100 metres and the 200 metres in the 2008 Olympic Games, setting world records at both distances

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with bolt


In addition to the idioms beginning with bolt

  • bolt from the blue, a
  • bolt upright

also see:

  • nuts and bolts
  • shoot one's bolt

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