Learn English – Why is there not a secondary definition for “bolt hole” that includes holes for bolts


When I look up the definition for "bolt hole" on Google or in most dictionaries, I am surprised to find that the definition does not include something similar to "a hole for bolts".

bolt hole definition

The current given definition is fine (it makes sense that the hole which an animal hides in when it "bolts" from danger would be called a "bolthole"), but I don't understand why there is no mention of mechanical bolts in the definition at all. Clearly, there are at least two definitions for the word "bolt". When I Google the definition for that, the first one is "a threaded pin that screws into a nut and is used to fasten things together." The secondary definition is "move or run away suddenly." The definition of "bolthole" seems to use the secondary definition of "bolt" and eliminate all other uses as options.

Am I missing something here? How would one go about referring to holes for bolts if not by saying "bolt holes"?

I should note that as a mechanical engineer, I use "bolt" to refer to the mechanical part far more often than the action of running away suddenly. Therefore, the use of the "bolthole" described above was quite surprising to me.

Best Answer

Most dictionaries just give the figurative, yes. But the OED gives both:

bolt-hole in bolt, n. OED

n. a hole through which a bolt passes (literal)

bolt-hole, n. OED

the escape sense (figurative)

but ... with separate listings, for why I do not know. Indeed many listing just give the figurative definition only.

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