Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. See potassium nitrate.
  • n. See sodium nitrate.
  • n. See niter.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Alternative spelling of saltpetre.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Potassium nitrate; niter; a white crystalline substance, KNO3, having a cooling saline taste, obtained by leaching from certain soils in which it is produced by the process of nitrification (see nitrification, 2). It is a strong oxidizer, is the chief constituent of gunpowder, and is also used as an antiseptic in curing meat, and in medicine as a diuretic, diaphoretic, and refrigerant.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A salt called also niter and, in chemical nomenclature, potassium nitrate, or nitrate of potash. See niter.
  • n. In the tobacco industry, a white saline efflorescence on the midvein and lateral ribs of the curing leaf, consisting usually of a mixture of several salts, sometimes with only a trace of saltpeter. It is thought to be developed by dry weather during the first stages of curing.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (KNO3) used especially as a fertilizer and explosive

Etymologies

Middle English salpetre, from Old French, from Medieval Latin sālpetrae : Latin sāl, salt; + Latin petrae, genitive of petra, rock (from Greek petrā).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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