\ ˈjōlt How to pronounce jolt (audio) \

Definition of jolt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an abrupt, sharp, jerky blow or movement awoke with a jolt
2a(1) : a sudden feeling of shock, surprise, or disappointment the news gave them a jolt
(2) : an event or development causing such a feeling the defeat was quite a jolt
b : a serious setback or reverse a severe financial jolt
3 : a small but potent or bracing portion of something a jolt of horseradish


jolted; jolting; jolts

Definition of jolt (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to disturb the composure of : shock crudely jolted out of that mood— Virginia Woolf an announcement that jolted the community
b : to interfere with roughly, abruptly, and disconcertingly determination to pursue his own course was jolted badly— F. L. Paxson
2 : to cause to move with a sudden jerky motion passengers being jolted along a bumpy road
3 : to give a knock or blow to specifically : to jar with a quick or hard blow

intransitive verb

: to move with a sudden jerky motion

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Other Words from jolt


jolty \ ˈjōl-​tē How to pronounce jolty (audio) \ adjective


jolter noun

Examples of jolt in a Sentence

Noun I sprang out of bed with a jolt. The car stopped with a jolt. I got quite a jolt when I heard the door slam. The defeat was quite a jolt to the team. The stock market suffered a major jolt yesterday. She needed a jolt of caffeine to start her day. The unexpected praise he received gave him a jolt of confidence. Verb The explosion jolted the ship. He was jolted forward when the bus stopped suddenly. The loud bang jolted me awake. The attack jolted the country into action. She jolted the medical world with her announcement.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun When he was arrested on Oct. 24, 2016, for killing Polk, 45, the news came as a jolt to Epps’ friends and family, as well as the activist community. Evan Sernoffsky, San Francisco Chronicle, "Did Kevin Epps kill in self-defense?," 21 Feb. 2020 Because health-conscious consumers increasingly are seeking low-calorie drinks with a nutritional boost or jolt of caffeine, dairy milk is now competing with sports drinks, tea, coffee or bottled water. Danielle Wiener-bronner, CNN, "Dairy farmers agree to buy 'substantial' part of Dean Foods," 17 Feb. 2020 When the electric chair is used, autopsies can help determine how quickly an inmate died when given jolts of electricity and help determine if the chair worked properly. USA TODAY, "Rock slides wreak havoc, close encounters with great white shark, gray whale: News from around our 50 states," 14 Feb. 2020 The way my toddler Khalil, sitting next to me in bed, my left arm wrapped around him, caused shooting electric nerve jolts to run down my body. Jessica Slice, Glamour, "What Are You Doing Right Now? I’m in Chronic Pain," 12 Feb. 2020 But NDiaye has also delivered a small jolt to the reader. Madeleine Schwartz, The New York Review of Books, "The Devourer," 11 Feb. 2020 From a pure entertainment perspective, though — and really, that's what this is all about — Puig would serve as a nice jolt for the Tigers and their fan base. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers mailbag: Yasiel Puig would be awesome. So why won't they sign him?," 7 Feb. 2020 As a result of Bellocchio’s moral reckoning, their fates carry a jolt. Armond White, National Review, "The Traitor Reimagines the Gangster Film and Modern Morality," 31 Jan. 2020 For jellyfish, a jolt of electricity apparently does the trick. Kate Baggaley, Popular Science, "Bionic jellyfish can swim three times faster," 31 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb America in the late 1800s and 1920s also faced jolting technical and economic changes, and the model of capitalism was questioned. The Economist, "America needs to fix capitalism to save it," 18 Oct. 2019 Indeed, Russian aggression has inspired the U.S. to rebuild its European military presence and jolted some Europeans into spending more. James Marson, WSJ, "NATO and Other Alliances Face Unprecedented Strains," 20 Jan. 2020 Turn off your email and text notifications for at least some of the outside work time so that you don’t get jolted back into thinking about work. NBC News, "Daily and weekly tips to help prevent burnout at work," 16 Jan. 2020 As Iran jolts the presidential race, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders look to seize the moment. Annah Aschbrenner, USA TODAY, "OnPolitics: We're back!," 10 Jan. 2020 Turns out, the magnitude 6.4 earthquake which jolted Puerto Rico yesterday was not an aberration—since December 28, some 400 earthquakes of a magnitude of 2 or greater have been recorded in the region. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "The Sweet Nostalgia of the ‘Israel Loves Iran’ Project," 8 Jan. 2020 The latest earthquake struck during the predawn hours, flattening homes, knocking out power in some areas and jolting awake terrified residents. Faith Karimi, CNN, "More than 500 earthquakes have rattled the Puerto Rico region in 10 days. There may be more to come," 8 Jan. 2020 There are snappy black-and-white flashbacks to Bergoglio’s youth in Argentina, and jolting jump cuts to specific memories. David Sims, The Atlantic, "A Breezy Buddy Comedy About the Modern Papacy," 29 Nov. 2019 The South Napa earthquake along the San Andreas Fault reached 6.0, caused roughly $1 billion in damage, injured 200, killed one and jolted plenty of nerves. Richard Freedman, The Mercury News, "A look back at 6.0 earthquake that hit Napa five years ago," 24 Aug. 2019

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

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First Known Use of jolt


1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1596, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

History and Etymology for jolt

Verb and Noun

probably blend of obsolete joll to strike and jot to bump

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Statistics for jolt

Last Updated

26 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Jolt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for jolt


How to pronounce jolt (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of jolt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a sudden, rough movement
: a sudden shock or surprise
: a small but powerful amount of something



English Language Learners Definition of jolt (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (something or someone) to move in a quick and sudden way
: to move with a quick and sudden motion
: to surprise or shock (someone)


\ ˈjōlt How to pronounce jolt (audio) \
jolted; jolting

Kids Definition of jolt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to move or cause to move with a sudden jerky motion The train jolted to a stop.
2 : to cause to be upset The bad news jolted us.



Kids Definition of jolt (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an abrupt jerky and usually powerful blow or movement
2 : a sudden shock or surprise Lincoln Elementary needed a good jolt once in a while …— Andrew Clements, Frindle

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More from Merriam-Webster on jolt

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for jolt

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with jolt

Spanish Central: Translation of jolt

Nglish: Translation of jolt for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of jolt for Arabic Speakers

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