bo·​lide | \ ˈbō-ˌlīd How to pronounce bolide (audio) , -lid \

Definition of bolide

: a large meteor : fireball especially : one that explodes

Examples of bolide in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web 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 The fireball cruising across the sky was most likely a fragment of an asteroid called a bolide, said operations manager Mike Hankey for the American Meteor Society to the Palm Beach Post. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Apr. 2021 That’s just what happened this week over Vermont, when a fireball — known to scientists as a bolide — streaked through the sky and exploded. Mike Wehner, BGR, 11 Mar. 2021 Thaddeus LaCoursiere, a planetarium educator for the Bell Museum at the University of Minnesota, identified the plummeting object as a bolide, an extremely bright meteor that often explodes upon engaging Earth's atmosphere. Paul Walsh, Star Tribune, 16 Dec. 2020 An infrasound network on the UAF campus in Fairbanks recorded a clean signal of the air-pressure waves from the Oct. 15 bolide over Western Alaska. Ned Rozell, Anchorage Daily News, 25 Oct. 2020 Conversely, several other large bolides are known to have arrived at various times in the past without accompanying extinctions. The Economist, 18 Jan. 2020 Earlier this year, while scanning the catalog’s records of meteoritic fireballs known as bolides, Siraj spotted one with an unusually high velocity. Nadia Drake, National Geographic, 16 Apr. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bolide.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of bolide

1784, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bolide

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.

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Cite this Entry

“Bolide.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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