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From bolt +‎ -er.


  • (file)


bolter (plural bolters)

  1. A person or thing that bolts, or runs suddenly.
    • 1992 June, Bill Tarrant, Gun Dogs: Problems with a Hunting Pattern, Field & Stream, page 104,
      Bolting can be one of the worst problems in dogdom to solve. We′ve all seen a bolter — or rather, we haven't seen him. We released him to hunt, and he was gone for the day, the week, the month. I′ve known of bolters to be gone for years.
  2. (botany, horticulture) A plant that grows larger and more rapidly than usual.
    • 1949, Redcliffe Nathan Salaman, The History and Social Influence of the Potato, 2000, page 68,
      Evidence is accumulating that bolters are plants which have changed their long-day habit to that of short-day.
  3. (flour milling) A machine or mechanism that automatically sifts milled flour.
    • 1983, Terry S. Reynolds, Stronger Than a Hundred Men: A History of the Vertical Water Wheel, page 138,
      The bolter was basically a sheet or roll of wire mesh or cloth (most often canvas or linen, but sometimes silk or another fabric). The flour produced by the mill was fed through or over the device, which was shaken by a mechanism (several were possible) taking power from the drive train leading from the water wheel to the millstones.
  4. A person who sifts flour or meal.
  5. (petroleum refining) A filter mechanism.
    • 1920, Henry Palmer Westcott, Hand Book of Natural Gas, page 634,
      This first bolter contains a screen of eight meshes to the inch and separates the hard particles, dirt or scale.
  6. (Australia, sports) An obscure athlete who wins an upset victory.
    • 2009 February 2, Todd Woodbridge, “Only a few stars head home happy”, in Herald Sun[1]:
      Last year he was eliminated by the bolter Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and this time he was beaten by the shining star, Fernando Verdasco.
  7. (Australia, horseracing) A horse that wins at long odds.
  8. (New Zealand, sports) In team sports, a relatively little-known or inexperienced player who inspires the team to greater success.
  9. (US, politics) A member of a political party who does not support the party's nominee.
    • 2007, William Graham Sumner, The Forgotten Man and Other Essays, page 149:
      The bolters from the Republican convention say, in their manifesto: "Discontent and distress prevail to an extent never before known in the history of the country."
  10. (military aviation) A missed landing on an aircraft carrier; an aircraft that has made a missed landing.
  11. A kind of fishing line; a boulter.


bolter (third-person singular simple present bolters, present participle boltering, simple past and past participle boltered)

  1. (dialect) To smear or become smeared with a grimy substance
    • 1592, Anonymous, Arden of Faversham:
      Methinks I see them with their boltered hair, Staring and grinning in thy gentle face, And in their ruthless hands their daggers drawn,
    • 1606, William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Macbeth:
      Now I see 'tis true, For the blood-boltered Banquo smiles upon me, And points at them for his.
    • 1903, The Academy and Literature - Volume 63, page 104:
      A saddler refused to black the linen lining of a harness-collar, though he had been told to do so, because the colouring would "bolter" the horse.
    • 1931, Owen Archer, Green Wine, page 113:
      She dashed hither and thither, never happy, always itching to be on somewhere else, with her eyebrows plucked to parentheses and her lotion-filled eyes boltering, looking as somebody said, like a peripatetic puff-ball.
    • 2001, Gayden Wren, A Most Ingenious Paradox: The Art of Gilbert and Sullivan:
      Then escaping from the foemen, boltered with the blood you shed, you, defiant, fearing no men, saved your honor and your head!.
  2. To sift or filter through a sieve or bolter.
    • 1888, John Addington Symonds, Renaissance in Italy: It̲alian literature, page 392:
      A thousand times the day, our Sieve is crowned; A thousand times 'tis drained: Let the Sieve once he strained, And, grain by grain, around Ye shall behold the ground Covered with folk, cast from the boltering Sieve.
    • 1919, Afdeeling Natuurkunde, Proceedings of the Section of Sciences - Volume 21, page 49:
      Owing to the scarcity of food the old problem has latterly cropped up again whether, instead of baking white-bread, it would not be more practical to make bread of unboltered meal, since through the process of boltering the grain loses 20-30% of its nutritive value, according to the degree of milling.
    • 1964, Montague Summers, The playhouse of Pepys, page 277:
      they were not themselves perhaps conscious how finely the foreign material must needs be boltered through a native sieve before it was palatable to English appetites, and, curiously as it may appear, for a couple of decades after the King's coming-in the hall-mark of your top-wit, your "high-brow" modern cant would name him, was not so much a Gallomania, as a particular veneration for "the greatest man of the last age, Ben Johnson."
  3. To fish using a bolter.
    • 1915, British Sea Anglers' Society, Quarterly - Issues 31-45, page 77:
      Those who are not boltering or spillering in the spring are crabbing.
    • 1942, Charles Lee, Cornish Tales, page 110:
      Yes, as a place of residence our little town should commend itself to the wealthy leisured classes; and as for us poor working folk, why, we manage to get along tolerable well, thank 'e, what with our crabbing, and spiltering, and boltering, and trammelling, and teeling our little plats of land, and snaring a few rabbits now and again, and — this in your ear — maybe knocking over a pheasant or two at a particular time.
  4. To pound rapidly.
    • 1852, The Western Law Journal - Volume 9, page 446:
      In Elliotson v. Feetham, 2 Bingham's N.C., 134, in 1835, the plaintiff a physician resideing in the parish of St. George, Hanover Square, in the county of Middlesex, and possessed of a house for a term of years, sued the defendant in case for a nuisance in carrying on an iron-mongery factory, "making divers large fires, and also divers loud, heavy, jarring, varying, agitating, hammering, and boltering sounds and noises.”
    • 1978, Rivista internazionale di psicologia e ipnosi - Volumes 19-20, page 200:
      The author refers the case of a teenager, eighteen years old, suffering from stuttering and boltering along with symptoms of anxiety, shakings and sweats.
    • 2000, John Paul Newport, The Fine Green Line:
      I could put all that adolescent, everything-rides-on-this-putt crap behind me. Yet when I lay awake at night contemplating the months ahead, my heart would bolter and my breathing quicken.
  5. (of a whale) To swim or turn sideways while eating.
    • 1929, Discovery Reports - Volume 32, page 215:
      Close observers of the habits of whales in more recent times however do not record this practice and it must be regarded as a fanciful belief which probably arose as Gunther (1949) suggests as a fisherman's explanation of the patches and their frequent association with boltering whales.
    • 1974, The Scientific Reports of the Whales Research Institute:
      Concerning with feeding habits of baleen whales, it has been also known that they follow to two different ways to collect the food organisms, say, “skimming” and “swallowing ” or “gulping ” by boltering the body while feeding,
    • 1991, Ocean Studies Institute, Santa Catalina Island USC Marine Science Center Field Trip, page 10:
      May be seen "breaching," propelling the body about halfway out of the water, then falling back with a huge splash; "Skyhopping," rising vertically out of the water apparently to visually scan the area; and "boltering," lying on its side while waving a pectoral fin in the air.
  6. (military, aviation) To miss a landing on an aircraft carrier by approaching at the wrong angle, thereby missing the tailhook wires.
    • 1982, Bert Kinzey, F-14 A & B Tomcat: in detail & scale, page 46:
      Commander Kleemann came back and boltered again on his second attempt. lt is unheard of for him to bolter twice in a row. Then on his third attempt he got aboard with an OK three-wire trap.
    • 1994, U.S. News & World Report - Volume 116, Issues 1-8, page 163:
      In the Diamondback's ready room, a tailhook bolt hangs by a string from the ceiling over one pilot's seat; he was the last to "bolter" that day, meaning he missed the wires while landing and had to make another pass.
    • 1994, Keith Douglass, Countdown, page 298:
      Tomcat 209 had one engine out, and if his tailhook failed to engage an arrestor wire, he wouldn't have the power necessary to complete a touch-and-go and would bolter off the forward end of the flight deck again.
    • 2006, Air & Space Smithsonian, page 18:
      The majority had bet I'd come down on the 2 wire, or, worse yet, knowing I did not want to bolter, the 1 wire.

Usage notes[edit]

The meaning to smear or be smeared with a grimy substance was originally used primarily to refer to farm animals getting wet with sweat, rain, etc. and then "boltering" with mud, hair, etc. However, its use by Shakespeare (Macbeth) popularized the term as referring to getting covered in blood, and most modern uses refer to boltering with blood.


Norwegian Bokmål[edit]


bolter m

  1. indefinite plural of bolt



  1. present tense of bolte