thun·​der·​bolt ˈthən-dər-ˌbōlt How to pronounce thunderbolt (audio)
: a single discharge of lightning with the accompanying thunder
: an imaginary elongated mass cast as a missile to earth in the lightning flash
: a person or thing that resembles lightning in suddenness, effectiveness, or destructive power
: a vehement threat or censure

Examples of thunderbolt in a Sentence

He was struck dead by a thunderbolt.
Recent Examples on the Web Changes on the outside, such as stripping away a thunderbolt port. Ewan Spence, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 Raining basketballs, strobe lights, rotating school hallways, CGI thunderbolts? Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times, 24 Oct. 2023 So her decision Monday to decline the mutual option on the last year of her contract as general manager of the Miami Marlins was a thoughtful one, not a knee-jerk reaction to a thunderbolt from owner Bruce Sherman. Steve Henson, Los Angeles Times, 16 Oct. 2023 The name of the path is slightly ill-omened, since Zeus killed Phaethon with a thunderbolt after the boy failed to control a chariot belonging to his father, Helios, the sun god. Charlotte Higgins, Travel + Leisure, 9 Oct. 2023 The seven actors in Half-God split up the many characters, introducing themselves and their roles at the top of the play and stepping between deities and mortals with the help of jerseys, headgear, and prop weaponry (Zeus has a thunderbolt; his Orisha thunder-god counterpart, Sango, has an ax). Vulture, 31 July 2023 Had the Pac-12 presidents agreed to expand as desperate Big 12 schools pleaded for salvation, the conference would have been fortified against the L.A. thunderbolt that struck a year later. Jon Wilner | , oregonlive, 5 Aug. 2023 Max also wore a navy blue top with a red thunderbolt graphic, grey sweatpants, and a blue hat. Aimée Lutkin, ELLE, 5 June 2023 In the early 1970s, Chef Norman Van Aken hadn’t yet had his Corleone-like thunderbolt moment with Florida. Amy Drew Thompson, Orlando Sentinel, 15 Apr. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near thunderbolt

Cite this Entry

“Thunderbolt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


thun·​der·​bolt ˈthən-dər-ˌbōlt How to pronounce thunderbolt (audio)
: a flash of lightning and the thunder that follows it

More from Merriam-Webster on thunderbolt

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