1 of 2


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


2 of 2


jolted; jolting; jolts

transitive verb

: to disturb the composure of : shock
crudely jolted out of that moodVirginia Woolf
an announcement that jolted the community
: to interfere with roughly, abruptly, and disconcertingly
determination to pursue his own course was jolted badlyF. L. Paxson
: to cause to move with a sudden jerky motion
passengers being jolted along a bumpy road
: 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
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.
Recent Examples on the Web
New York City felt a jolt Friday morning, after a 4.8 magnitude earthquake with its center in New Jersey rocked Wall Street and other parts of the city. Chris Morris, Fortune, 5 Apr. 2024 But then, even in a fault-riddled place with long and hard experience with earthquakes, the jolt of aftershock after aftershock was startling, continuing every few minutes throughout the day. John Yoon, New York Times, 3 Apr. 2024 The jolt will prevent San Diego’s daytime high from rising above 58 on Friday. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Apr. 2024 The jolts to the middle were sparked, in part, by the decision by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema not to run for reelection, as well as Arizona's demographics and electoral history. Tal Axelrod, ABC News, 2 Apr. 2024 High temperatures could also promote a phenomenon known as rapid intensification, when storms undergo a sudden jolt in wind speeds over 30 knots in a 24-hour period, as was the case last year with Hurricanes Idalia—a Category 4 storm—and Lee, a Category 5. Brian Bushard, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2024 The return of Cox adds another jolt to the project, which has been revamped following the departure of star Jenna Ortega, the firing of actor Melissa Barrera and the exit of director Christopher Landon last year. Aaron Couch, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Mar. 2024 Audiences walk to their seats through smoldering rubble, a visceral jolt of the toll of modern warfare. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 28 Mar. 2024 The defibrillator, a machine that delivers a powerful jolt of electricity to a person’s heart, is one of the few 20th-century inventions that have helped improve survival rates. Helen Ouyang, New York Times, 27 Mar. 2024
That’s the kind of movie Civil War is: one that invents a nightmare-on-earth scenario and takes great pains to portray it as realistically as possible, with the aim of jolting us to attention. Stephanie Zacharek, TIME, 12 Apr. 2024 Government agencies were searching for potential structural damage up and down the East Coast after the first quake, which briefly disrupted air-traffic control, slowed train service and jolted millions of Americans out of their daily routines. Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2024 As our world’s ground to a halt, the masses were jolted into a disorienting reality, giving many a rare opportunity to engage with our thoughts and feel our feelings in ways the chaotic rhythm of our pre-pandemic lives seldom allowed. Ebony Flake, Essence, 4 Apr. 2024 The crisp transitions and jolting vocal layering are some of her best. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Apr. 2024 The net job losses in the Bay Area were more severe than the statewide staffing reductions that jolted California. George Avalos, The Mercury News, 22 Mar. 2024 Yet a massive change is afoot that threatens to upend this supply chain and jolt prices for sweets, skin-care products and herbal medicines. Mumbi Gitau, Fortune Europe, 27 Feb. 2024 The quake also jolted the island’s west coast, toppling one building in Changhua County entirely. John Yoon, New York Times, 3 Apr. 2024 Marquis Neal, 48, who lives in the Turner Station community near the bridge, said the crash jolted him awake. Danny Nguyen, Washington Post, 27 Mar. 2024

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

Word History


Verb and Noun

probably blend of obsolete joll to strike and jot to bump

First Known Use


1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1596, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of jolt was in 1596

Dictionary Entries Near jolt

Cite this Entry

“Jolt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
: to give a quick hard blow to : jar
: to move jerkily
jolter noun


2 of 2 noun
: a sudden jarring blow or movement
: a sudden shock or surprise

More from Merriam-Webster on jolt

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