thun·​der·​bolt | \ ˈthən-dər-ˌbōlt How to pronounce thunderbolt (audio) \

Definition of thunderbolt

1a : a single discharge of lightning with the accompanying thunder
b : an imaginary elongated mass cast as a missile to earth in the lightning flash
2a : a person or thing that resembles lightning in suddenness, effectiveness, or destructive power
b : a vehement threat or censure

Examples of thunderbolt in a Sentence

He was struck dead by a thunderbolt.
Recent Examples on the Web That the Padres were able to poach Oakland’s career leader in managerial victories was a thunderbolt in the moment last October, and the first signal that the A’s were about to embark on another rebuilding project. New York Times, 7 June 2022 This thunderbolt detail brings us to the death teaser in Thor 4 trailer 2. Chris Smith, BGR, 30 May 2022 Eating lunch one day, mid-chew, the answer came to him like a thunderbolt. April Reynolds, Bon Appétit, 12 Apr. 2022 The electric songs that would comprise Fear of the Dawn, his Beefheartian thunderbolt of an album, spilled out. Daniel Kohn, SPIN, 1 Apr. 2022 The latest thunderbolt crackled through the league Monday afternoon, the Atlanta Falcons shipping longtime QB Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 21 Mar. 2022 Akin to his 2008 wonder strike against FC Porto in the Champions League for the Red Devils, the Portugal international hit a thunderbolt from a similar distance which sailed past the flailing Hugo Lloris. Liam Canning, Forbes, 13 Mar. 2022 Percy must trek across America to clear his name, find the missing thunderbolt, and restore order to Olympus. Christian Holub,, 25 Jan. 2022 Moments later, a thunderbolt struck the spot where power lines entered the home. Washington Post, 24 Nov. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of thunderbolt

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best surge protectors.

Learn More About thunderbolt

Time Traveler for thunderbolt

Time Traveler

The first known use of thunderbolt was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near thunderbolt




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for thunderbolt

Last Updated

17 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Thunderbolt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for thunderbolt


thun·​der·​bolt | \ ˈthən-dər-ˌbōlt How to pronounce thunderbolt (audio) \

Kids Definition of thunderbolt

: a flash of lightning and the thunder that follows it

More from Merriam-Webster on thunderbolt

Nglish: Translation of thunderbolt for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!