\ ˈjōlt \

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 \ adjective


jolter noun

Examples of jolt in a Sentence


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.


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

Since Mary Page marries three times in her life, this is a jolt that keeps on giving. Jesse Green, New York Times, "Review: ‘Mary Page Marlowe’ Lives an Ordinary, Extraordinary Life," 12 July 2018 Germany's departure was the biggest group phase jolt. Ronald Blum,, "European and South American teams dominate World Cup Round of 16," 28 June 2018 On November 22, 2016, Liz Garbus realized, with a jolt of clarity, the subject of her next project., "How Liz Garbus Became A Fly On The Wall During The New York Times' Most Stressful 100 Days," 25 May 2018 But all three women and an unidentified man who joined in kept at it, and when the ambulance arrived, paramedics were able to shock Taylor’s heart back into a normal rhythm with just one jolt from the defibrillator. Théoden Janes, charlotteobserver, "His heart stopped. How it got working again is an amazing story. Was it luck, or God?," 28 May 2018 But after the placid years of 2015 and 2016, weather-wise, the company was slammed by an unprecedented series of weather jolts, in 2017 and again this year. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "History of power outages riles metro Detroiters, DTE promises fixes," 28 June 2018 However, even with the buzzing set to a maximum level, this music-timed jolt was pretty minuscule, if only because those controllers are engineered to maximize their bump if your hands clasp the controller perfectly. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Lumines Remastered turns the Nintendo Switch into a full-body vibration party," 26 June 2018 The jolt knocked out power to about 14,400 customers, but electricity was restored within hours. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, "Hawaii volcano: New eruption points allow lava into neighborhoods," 5 May 2018 The jolt of recent turbulence stemming from the bond market has been amplified by impending U.S. midterm elections, which investors expect to spur market swings, some analysts said. Gunjan Banerji, WSJ, "Investor Fears Drive Up Hedging Costs," 11 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The field was jolted when Buck died suddenly in 1959 at the age of 32, a few days after falling ill with a high fever and a bad cough. Phil Lapsley, WSJ, "‘The Cryotron Files’ Review: Taking the Cold War to Subzero," 11 Oct. 2018 Dreamed up by costume designer Karen Patch, the dress provides a shock of high-watt fabulousness—enough to jolt anyone into a more desirable state. Vogue, "13 Perfect Rom-Coms to Help With Your Holiday Hangover Right Now," 1 Jan. 2019 This wasn’t the first picture of the whole planet from space—the year before, the ATS-3 probe took a picture of the entire Earth, which counterculture icon Stewart Brand urged NASA to release, hoping to jolt humanity into a global perspective. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "Why Apollo 8 Mattered," 21 Dec. 2018 The raccoon, clearly not ready to give up and not a fan of ladders, jolted from the recess of the building, dug its long fingernails into the tan exterior and scurried over to another side. Matthew Haag, New York Times, "Daredevil Raccoon Climbs Minnesota Skyscraper and Becomes a Sensation," 13 June 2018 The move helped jolt equity and currency markets overseas. Bill Powell, Newsweek, "Clash of the Superpowers: Xi Jinping Comes to America," 21 Sep. 2015 National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told KompasTV that the quake strongly jolted Mataram, the capital of West Nusa Tenggara province, and may have caused damage there. Travis Fedschun, Mike Arroyo, Fox News, "More than 90 killed after 6.9 magnitude earthquake strikes Indonesia's Lombok Island, near Bali," 2 Oct. 2018 Thanks to Jason Day and a kinder, gentler course setup, the storyline for the Wells Fargo Championship jolted forward Saturday, suggesting that the best has been saved for the last day. Ron Green Jr., charlotteobserver, "‘Strap on.’ Storylines, course are set up for a gripping final round at Quail Hollow | Charlotte Observer," 5 May 2018 The report jolted the foundation, whose assets under management surged last year by 65 percent, to $13.5 billion — surpassing the Ford Foundation. Chronicle Staff Report, San Francisco Chronicle, "Silicon Valley Community Foundation executive resigns amid misconduct allegations," 20 Apr. 2018

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

12 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for jolt

The first known use of jolt was in 1596

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More Definitions for jolt



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 \
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with jolt

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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