bo·​lide ˈbō-ˌlīd How to pronounce bolide (audio)
: a large meteor : fireball
especially : one that explodes

Examples of bolide in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Fragments fill the sky, obscure our view of space, and start to impact countless gigantic bolides (large meteors which explode in the atmosphere), destroying cities and heating the atmosphere so much that the oceans boil away. Drew Turney, Popular Mechanics, 20 Apr. 2023 One of only seven examples of its kind, and the only one to wear aluminum bodywork, Maranello’s black bolide first broke through the atmosphere in 1961 and will definitely have an impact on collectors during Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach Auctions on August 20. Robert Ross, Robb Report, 8 Aug. 2022 The last time a similar phenomenon was observed in Russia was in 2002 (Vitim bolide). Tom Yulsman, Discover Magazine, 15 Feb. 2013 The observed path of the Russian bolide was totally different than the path of 2012 DA. Corey S Powell, Discover Magazine, 16 Feb. 2013 Few astronomical viewing sessions promise the drama of a brilliant fireball (a meteor that casts a shadow) or bolide (an exploding meteor), but meteor showers can feature such events. Michael E Bakich, Discover Magazine, 7 Aug. 2018 Reports are still coming in about the brilliant meteor (technically known as a bolide) that slammed into the atmosphere over Russia, causing injuries that sent hundreds of people to the hospital. Corey S Powell, Discover Magazine, 16 Feb. 2013 The recent bolide agreement, granting NASA access to light curve data that will help scientists analyze the physical properties of plunging fireballs, is one step in that direction. Joey Roulette,, 16 Apr. 2022 This meteor likely would have been between 60 and 75 m across, putting it at potentially larger than the bolide that exploded in the Tunguska event. Elizabeth Fernandez, Forbes, 23 Sep. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bolide.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from French & Latin; French bolide, borrowed from Latin bolid-, bolis, borrowed from Greek bolid-, bolís "hunting javelin, bolt (of lightning), throw of dice," derivative of bol- (in bolḗ or bólos "throw, cast"), nominal derivative from the base of bállein "to throw" — more at devil entry 1

Note: The word "bolide" is owed ultimately to the Roman natural historian pliny the Elder. Pliny used Latin bolis, plural bolides, as one of several terms describing "prodigies in the heavens" (caelestia prodigia) in his Natural History (2.37). For meteors in general he employs the word facēs (literally, "torches"), which "are only seen when they are falling" ("non nisi cum decidunt visae"). While some facēs are only burning in their front part, the bolidēs burn continually and hence leave a longer track ("bolis vero perpetua ardens longiorem trahit limitem"). While Pliny's other terms for his heavenly prodigies are fairly straightforward (facēs "torches," lampades "torches, lamps," trabēs "beams"), the Greek loanword bolis has no other record of use in Latin. In Greek it is a sparsely attested word, and it is uncertain what sense Pliny had in mind.

First Known Use

1784, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bolide was in 1784


Dictionary Entries Near bolide

Cite this Entry

“Bolide.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

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