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

  • n. A tax, especially the salt tax imposed in France before 1790.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A tax; especially, the tax on salt levied in pre-Revolutionary France.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A tax, especially on salt.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. See gabel.


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

Middle English gabel, from Old French, from Old Italian gabella, from Arabic qabāla, tribute, from qabila, to receive; see qbl in Semitic roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle French gabelle.


  • One of the grievances that fueled the French Revolution of 1789 was the salt tax, also called the gabelle .

    Infernal Revenue: Unusual taxes in history

  • Then it was suggested that the Powers should do this through certain sections of the country, and then, again, that they should intervene through control of the institutions and organizations of China as, for instance, international control of railways, international control of land taxes, international control of the salt gabelle, which is more or less under international control; and of course the customs and the postal service.

    What Is To Become of China?

  • King John was keen to fight; the States General gave him the means for carrying on war, by establishing the odious "gabelle" on salt, and other imposts.

    Court Memoirs of France Series — Complete

  • Suppose a share assessed to each person of one or two francs for the consumption of salt and you obtain ten or a dozen millions; the modern "gabelle" disappears, the poor breathe freer, agriculture is relieved, the State receives as much, and no tax-payer complains.


  • It would be a modern gabelle: everyone consumes fuel one way or another.

    Greg Mankiw Pumps for a Higher Gas Tax, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • Embrun; but I am a King, my power is great, my wealth boundless; and, were it otherwise, I would double the gabelle on my subjects, rather than not pay my debts to you both.

    Quentin Durward

  • The result was the hated gabelle, the infamous salt tax that became a major source of revenue for the old regime in France, and a leading cause of revolution in 1789.4

    Champlain's Dream

  • The people of the Boulonnois enjoy some extraordinary privileges, and, in particular, are exempted from the gabelle or duties upon salt: how they deserved this mark of favour,

    Travels through France and Italy

  • These arose from a very heavy tax upon land and houses, the portions of maidens, and suits at law, besides the duties upon traffick, a severe gabelle upon the necessaries of life, and a toll upon every eatable entered into this capital.

    Travels through France and Italy

  • They enjoyed particular privileges, till the year 1753, when in consequence of a new gabelle upon salt, they revolted: but this effort in behalf of liberty did not succeed.

    Travels through France and Italy


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