verb (used with object)

  1. to jar, shake, or cause to move by or as if by a sudden rough thrust; shake up roughly: The bus jolted its passengers as it went down the rocky road.
  2. to knock sharply so as to dislodge: He jolted the nail free with a stone.
  3. to stun with a blow, especially in boxing.
  4. to shock emotionally or psychologically: His sudden death jolted us all.
  5. to bring to a desired state sharply or abruptly: to jolt a person into awareness.
  6. to make active or alert, as by using an abrupt, sharp, or rough manner: to jolt someone’s memory.
  7. to interfere with or intrude upon, especially in a rough or crude manner; interrupt disturbingly.

verb (used without object)

  1. to move with a sharp jerk or a series of sharp jerks: The car jolted to a halt.


  1. a jolting shock, movement, or blow: The automobile gave a sudden jolt.
  2. an emotional or psychological shock: The news of his arrest gave me quite a jolt.
  3. something that causes such a shock: The news was a jolt to me.
  4. a sudden, unexpected rejection or defeat: Their policy got a rude jolt from the widespread opposition.
  5. Slang. a prison sentence.
  6. Slang. an injection of a narcotic.
  7. a bracing dose of something: a jolt of whiskey; a jolt of fresh air.

verb (tr)

  1. to bump against with a jarring blow; jostle
  2. to move in a jolting manner
  3. to surprise or shock


  1. a sudden jar or blow
  2. an emotional shock

1590s, “a knock,” from jolt (v.). Meaning “jarring shock” is from 1630s.


1590s, perhaps from Middle English jollen, chollen “to knock, to batter” (early 15c.), or an alteration of obsolete jot (v.) “to jostle” (1520s). Perhaps related to earlier jolt head “a big, stupid head” (1530s). Figurative sense of “to startle, surprise” is from 1872. Related: Jolted; jolting.

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