How does the term "bolt" have so many diverse meanings?

I've counted 5 meanings so far, none of which seem to be related:

1) lightning bolt

2) bolt on a door or a machine

3) bolt of cloth

4) run away really quickly

How can all these meanings come from a common root?


Oops! I forgot one of my examples:

5) To gobble down your food-- bolt it down

3 Answers

  • Cindy
    Lv 4
    8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Hi Joy,

    I did some web surfing for you trying to answer your question, and I was surprised and even a little confused. The best I can make out is that the word has come together from three different root words: one from Old English; one from old French; and the last an old German word. They all sounded very similar and for the most part had similar meanings.

    The web page I've linked below has a list of over 15 - 20 meanings!!! Talk about confusing.

    Hope this helps.

  • 8 years ago

    That's only four, and I don't think it's too much of a stretch to see that a lightning bolt and the bolt on a door could have a similar root. And anyway, just because words are spelled alike doesn't necessarily mean they came from the same root.

    How about the word fly? As a noun, it can mean an insect or part of a pair of pants. As a verb, it means to move through the air. As an adjective, it means sly or knowing. Those are only some of its uses and we won't even get into the part of a theatre stage known as "the flies".

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    Our language is just weird, I'm kidding. We adopt definitions from different origins, bolt has definitions from french, middle english, german, etc.

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