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

  • n. A colorless or white crystalline solid, chiefly sodium chloride, used extensively in ground or granulated form as a food seasoning and preservative. Also called common salt, table salt.
  • n. A chemical compound formed by replacing all or part of the hydrogen ions of an acid with metal ions or electropositive radicals.
  • n. Any of various mineral salts used as laxatives or cathartics.
  • n. Smelling salts.
  • n. Epsom salts. Often used in the plural.
  • n. An element that gives flavor or zest.
  • n. Sharp lively wit.
  • n. Informal A sailor, especially when old or experienced.
  • n. A saltcellar.
  • adj. Containing or filled with salt: a salt spray; salt tears.
  • adj. Having a salty taste or smell: breathed the salt air.
  • adj. Preserved in salt or a salt solution: salt mackerel.
  • adj. Flooded with seawater.
  • adj. Found in or near such a flooded area: salt grasses.
  • transitive v. To add, treat, season, or sprinkle with salt.
  • transitive v. To cure or preserve by treating with salt or a salt solution.
  • transitive v. To provide salt for (deer or cattle).
  • transitive v. To add zest or liveliness to: salt a lecture with anecdotes.
  • transitive v. To give an appearance of value to by fraudulent means, especially to place valuable minerals in (a mine) for the purpose of deceiving.
  • salt away To put aside; save.
  • salt out To separate (a dissolved substance) by adding salt to the solution.
  • idiom salt of the earth A person or group considered as the best or noblest part of society.
  • idiom worth (one's) salt Efficient and capable.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A common substance, chemically consisting mainly of sodium chloride (NaCl), used extensively as a condiment and preservative.
  • n. One of the compounds formed from the reaction of an acid with a base, where a positive ion replaces a hydrogen of the acid.
  • n. A kind of marsh at the shore of a sea (short for salt marsh, apparently not in a wide-spread use).
  • n. A sailor (also old salt).
  • n. Additional bytes inserted into a plaintext message before encryption, in order to increase randomness and render brute-force decryption more difficult.
  • n. A person that engages in the political act of seeking employment at a company in order to help unionize it.
  • adj. Salty; salted.
  • adj. Saline.
  • v. To add salt to.
  • v. To blast gold into (as a portion of a mine) in order to cause to appear to be a productive seam.
  • v. To add filler bytes before encrypting, in order to make brute-force decryption more resource-intensive.
  • v. To include colorful language in.
  • v. To insert or inject something into an object to give it properties it would not naturally have.
  • v. To add bogus evidence to an archeological site.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or relating to salt; abounding in, or containing, salt; prepared or preserved with, or tasting of, salt; salted.
  • adj. Overflowed with, or growing in, salt water.
  • adj. Fig.: Bitter; sharp; pungent.
  • adj. Fig.: Salacious; lecherous; lustful.
  • n. The chloride of sodium, a substance used for seasoning food, for the preservation of meat, etc. It is found native in the earth, and is also produced, by evaporation and crystallization, from sea water and other water impregnated with saline particles.
  • n. Hence, flavor; taste; savor; smack; seasoning.
  • n. Hence, also, piquancy; wit; sense.
  • n. A dish for salt at table; a saltcellar.
  • n. A sailor; -- usually qualified by old.
  • n. The neutral compound formed by the union of an acid and a base.
  • n. Fig.: That which preserves from corruption or error; that which purifies; a corrective; an antiseptic; also, an allowance or deduction.
  • n. Any mineral salt used as an aperient or cathartic, especially Epsom salts, Rochelle salt, or Glauber's salt.
  • n. Marshes flooded by the tide.
  • n. The act of leaping or jumping; a leap.
  • intransitive v. To deposit salt as a saline solution.
  • transitive v. To sprinkle, impregnate, or season with salt; to preserve with salt or in brine; to supply with salt.
  • transitive v. To fill with salt between the timbers and planks, as a ship, for the preservation of the timber.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A compound (NaCl) of chlorin with the metallic base of the alkali soda, one of the most abundantly disseminated and important of all substances.
  • n. In chem., any acid in which one or more atoms of hydrogen have been replaced with metallic atoms or basic radicals; any base in which the hydrogen atoms have been more or less replaced by non-metallic atoms or acid radicals; also, the product of the direct union of a metallic oxid and an anhydrid.
  • n. plural A salt (as Epsom salts, etc.) used as a medicine. See also smelling-salts.
  • n. A marshy place flooded by the tide.
  • n. A salt-cellar.
  • n. In heraldry, a bearing representing a high decorative salt-cellar, intended to resemble those used in the middle ages. In modern delineations this is merely a covered vase.
  • n. Seasoning; that which preserves a thing from corruption, or gives taste and pungency to it.
  • n. Taste; smack; savor; flavor.
  • n. Wit; piquancy; pungency; sarcasm: as, Attic salt (which see, under Attic).
  • n. Modification; hence, allowance; abatement; reserve: as, to take a thing with a grain of salt (see phrase below).
  • n. A bronzing material, the chlorid or butter of antimony, used in browning gun-barrels and other iron articles.
  • n. Lecherous desire.
  • n. A sailor, especially an experienced sailor.
  • Having the taste or pungency of salt; impregnated with, containing, or a bounding in salt: as, salt water.
  • Prepared or preserved with salt: as, salt beef; salt fish.
  • Overflowed with or growing in salt water: as, salt grass or hay.
  • Sharp; bitter; pungent.
  • Costly; dear; expensive: as, he paid a salt price for it.
  • Lecherous; salacious.
  • A game something like hide-and-seek.
  • To sprinkle, impregnate, or season with salt, or with a salt: as, to salt fish, beef, or pork.
  • To fill with salt between the timbers and planks, as a ship, for the preservation of the timber.
  • To furnish with salt; feed salt to: as, to salt cows.
  • In soap-making, to add salt to (the lye in the kettles) after saponification of the fatty ingredients, in order to separate the soap from the lye.
  • In photography, to impregnate (paper, canvas, or other tissue) with a salt or mixture of salts in solution, which, when treated with other solutions, form new compounds in the texture.
  • To make, as a freshman, drink salt water, by way of initiation, according to a university custom of the sixteenth century.
  • To deposit salt, as a saline substance: as, the brine begins to salt.
  • To enrich (a natural deposit) by artificial means, usually for the purpose of deceiving prospective purchasers. Thus a gold-mine is salted when powdered gold is shot into the rock with a gun; a sample is salted when metal, or rich ore, is mixed with it; a mineral spring is salted by the addition of salts; an oil-well by the addition of rich oils, etc.
  • n. See sault.
  • n. plural In glass manufacturing, same as glass-gall. See anatron, 1.
  • n. plural A name given to mixed saline masses obtained by evaporating the water of mineral springs, or by artificially mixing the saline constituents of such springs in the proportions indicated by analysis of the water: as, Karlsbad salts, Vichy salts, etc.
  • n. A salt which exhibits alkaline reaction or changes the red color of moist litmus-paper to blue, as does disodium orthophosphate.
  • n. An impure common salt from India, colored by admixture with tannate of iron. See bitnoben.

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

  • n. a compound formed by replacing hydrogen in an acid by a metal (or a radical that acts like a metal)
  • v. preserve with salt
  • adj. (of speech) painful or bitter
  • v. add zest or liveliness to
  • n. negotiations between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics opened in 1969 in Helsinki designed to limit both countries' stock of nuclear weapons
  • n. the taste experience when common salt is taken into the mouth
  • v. sprinkle as if with salt
  • v. add salt to
  • n. white crystalline form of especially sodium chloride used to season and preserve food


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

Middle English, from Old English sealt.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English sealt, from Proto-Germanic *saltan (cf. Dutch zout, German Salz, Swedish salt), from Proto-Indo-European *seh₂l- (cf. Welsh halen, Old Irish salann, Latin sal, Russian соль (sol'), Ancient Greek ἅλς (háls), Albanian ngjelmë ("salty, savory"), Old Armenian աղ (ał), Tocharian A sāle, Sanskrit सलिल (salila)).



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  • Interesting usage/historical note on spices.

    December 2, 2016

  • In heraldry, a bearing representing a high decorative salt-cellar, intended to resemble those used in the middle ages.

    January 15, 2013

  • In every shop and on the roads:


    In proper measure

    Bringing out the taste,

    The flavor and spirit

    Of our food, hot or cold.

    Why should pepper get

    So much admiration

    When salt does all the work?

    - Ghirmai Yohannes, 'Unjust Praise', translated from the Tigrinya by Charles Cantalupo and Ghirmai Negash.

    November 10, 2008

  • ...we were too salt to believe every yarn that comes into the forecastle, and waited to hear the truth of the matter from higher authority.

    - Richard Henry Dana Jr., Two Years Before the Mast, ch. 25

    September 9, 2008

  • Take one of my tears,

    Throw it into the ocean

    and watch the salt in the wounds

    Of this earth and men begin to disappear.

    - Hafiz, translation by Daniel Ladinsky.

    December 8, 2007

  • Captured at Yorktown, "50 bags salt, 50 bushels."

    October 29, 2007