verb (used without object)

verb (used with object)

to strike, drive, inflict, give forth, etc., with loud noise or violent action.


    steal someone's thunder,
    1. to use for one's own purposes and without the knowledge or permission of the originator the inventions or ideas of another.
    2. to ruin or detract from the effect of a performance, remark, etc., by anticipating it.

Origin of thunder

before 900; (noun) Middle English thonder, thunder, Old English thunor; cognate with Dutch donder, German Donner; Old Norse thōrr Thor, literally, thunder; (v.) Middle English thondren, Old English thunrian, derivative of the v.; akin to Latin tonāre to thunder
Related formsthun·der·er, nounthun·der·less, adjectiveout·thun·der, verb (used with object) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for thunder

Contemporary Examples of thunder

Historical Examples of thunder

  • And a rumble quickly grew to an earth-shaking blast of thunder.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • Pound, pound, pound, the hard road rang with the thunder of hoofs.

    A Woman Tenderfoot

    Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson

  • When he flaps his wings or even moves a quill the thunder peals.

  • There was no thunder nor lightning during the whole time they were in these latitudes.

  • And the thunder of galloping hoofs was more menacing than that of the cannon.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

British Dictionary definitions for thunder



a loud cracking or deep rumbling noise caused by the rapid expansion of atmospheric gases which are suddenly heated by lightning
any loud booming sound
rare a violent threat or denunciation
steal someone's thunder to detract from the attention due to another by forestalling him or her


to make (a loud sound) or utter (words) in a manner suggesting thunder
(intr; with it as subject) to be the case that thunder is being heard
(intr) to move fast and heavilythe bus thundered downhill
(intr) to utter vehement threats or denunciation; rail
Derived Formsthunderer, nounthundery, adjective

Word Origin for thunder

Old English thunor; related to Old Saxon thunar, Old High German donar, Old Norse thōrr; see Thor, Thursday
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

Word Origin and History for thunder

Old English þunor, from Proto-Germanic *thunraz (cf. Old Norse þorr, Old Frisian thuner, Middle Dutch donre, Dutch donder, Old High German donar, German Donner "thunder"), from PIE *(s)tene- "to resound, thunder" (cf. Sanskrit tanayitnuh "thundering," Persian tundar "thunder," Latin tonare "to thunder"). Swedish tordön is literally "Thor's din." The intrusive -d- is also found in Dutch and Icelandic versions of the word.


Old English þunrian, from the source of thunder (n.). Figurative sense of "to speak loudly, threateningly, bombastically" is recorded from mid-14c. Related: Thundered; thundering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

thunder in Science



The explosive noise that accompanies a stroke of lightning. Thunder is a series of sound waves produced by the rapid expansion of the air through which the lightning passes. Sound travels about 1 km in 3 seconds (about 1 mi in 5 seconds). The distance between an observer and a lightning flash can be calculated by counting the number of seconds between the flash and the thunder. See Note at lightning.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

thunder in Culture


The noise created when air rushes back into a region from which it has been expelled by the passage of lightning.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with thunder


see under steal someone's thunder.

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