from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A colorless or white crystalline solid, chiefly sodium chloride, used extensively in ground or granulated form as a food seasoning and preservative.
  • noun An ionic chemical compound formed by replacing all or part of the hydrogen ions of an acid with metal ions or other cations.
  • noun Any of various mineral salts used as laxatives or cathartics.
  • noun Smelling salts.
  • noun Epsom salts.
  • noun An element that gives flavor or zest.
  • noun Sharp lively wit.
  • noun Informal A sailor, especially when old or experienced.
  • noun A saltcellar.
  • adjective Containing or filled with salt.
  • adjective Having a salty taste or smell.
  • adjective Preserved in salt or a salt solution.
  • adjective Flooded with seawater.
  • adjective Found in or near such a flooded area.
  • transitive verb To add, treat, season, or sprinkle with salt.
  • transitive verb To cure or preserve by treating with salt or a salt solution.
  • transitive verb To provide salt for (deer or cattle).
  • transitive verb To add zest or liveliness to.
  • transitive verb To give an appearance of value to by fraudulent means, especially to place valuable minerals in (a mine) for the purpose of deceiving.
  • idiom (salt of the earth) A person or group considered the best or most worthy part of society.
  • idiom (worth (one's) salt) Efficient and capable.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun plural In glass manufacturing, same as glass-gall. See anatron, 1.
  • noun 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.
  • noun A salt which exhibits alkaline reaction or changes the red color of moist litmus-paper to blue, as does disodium orthophosphate.
  • noun An impure common salt from India, colored by admixture with tannate of iron. See bitnoben.
  • 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.
  • noun See sault.
  • noun A compound (NaCl) of chlorin with the metallic base of the alkali soda, one of the most abundantly disseminated and important of all substances.
  • noun 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.
  • noun plural A salt (as Epsom salts, etc.) used as a medicine. See also smelling-salts.
  • noun A marshy place flooded by the tide.
  • noun A salt-cellar.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Seasoning; that which preserves a thing from corruption, or gives taste and pungency to it.
  • noun Taste; smack; savor; flavor.
  • noun Wit; piquancy; pungency; sarcasm: as, Attic salt (which see, under Attic).
  • noun Modification; hence, allowance; abatement; reserve: as, to take a thing with a grain of salt (see phrase below).
  • noun A bronzing material, the chlorid or butter of antimony, used in browning gun-barrels and other iron articles.
  • noun Lecherous desire.
  • noun A sailor, especially an experienced sailor.


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

[Middle English, from Old English sealt; see sal- in Indo-European roots.]

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

    October 29, 2007

  • 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

  • ...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

  • 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

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

    January 15, 2013

  • Interesting usage/historical note on spices.

    December 2, 2016