An arrow, a shaft (Anglo-Saxon, bolta; Danish, bolt;
Greek, ballo, to cast; Latin, pello, to drive). A door
bolt is a shaft of wood or iron, which may be shot or driven
forward to secure a door. A thunderbolt is an hypothetical shaft
cast from the clouds; an aerolite. Cupid's bolt is Cupid's
The fool's bolt is soon spent.
A foolish archer shoots all his arrows so heedlessly that he leaves
himself no resources in case of need.
I must bolt.
Be off like an arrow. To bolt food.
To swallow it quickly
without waiting to chew it. To bolt out the truth.
To blurt it
out; also To bolt out,
to exclude or shut out by bolting the
door. To bolt.
To sift, as flour is bolted. This has a different
derivation to the above (Low Latin, bult-ella,
a boulter, from an Old French word for coarse cloth).
I cannot bolt this matter to the bran,
As Bradwarden and holy Austin can.
Dryden's version of the Cock and Fox.
Bolt from the Blue
(A). There fell a bolt from the blue. A sudden and wholly
unexpected catastrophe or event occurred, like a “thunderbolt” from the
blue sky, or flash of lightning without warning and wholly unexpected.
Igni corusco nubila dividens,
Plerumque, per purum tonantes
Egit equos volucremque currum. ...
Horace: 1 Ode xxxiv. 5, etc.
“On Monday, Dec. 22nd , there fell a bolt from the blue. The
morning papers announced that the men were out [on strike].”—
Nineteenth Century, February, 1891, p. 246.
In this phrase the word “bolt” is used in the popular sense for
lightning the Latin fulmen, the French foudre and
tonnerre, in English sometimes for an aerolite. Of course, in
strict scientific language, a flash of lightning is not a thunderbolt.
Metaphorically, it means a sudden and wholly unexpected catastrophe,
like a thunderbolt [flash of lightning] from a blue or serene sky.
Wie ein Blitzstrahl aus blauem Aether. Italian:
fulmine a ciel sereno. Latin:
Audiit et coeli genitor de parte
serena intonuit haevum. (Virgil: AEneid,
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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