There are 2 main definitions of salt in English:

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salt 1

Pronunciation: /sôlt/


1 (also common salt) A white crystalline substance that gives seawater its characteristic taste and is used for seasoning or preserving food.
  • Alternative name: sodium chloride; chemical formula: NaCl. See sea salt.
Example sentences
  • Add the braised chicken and season to taste with salt and pepper sauce.
  • Add white soy sauce and milk, season with salt and pepper to taste and bring to a simmer.
  • Lay the marinated turkey strips on the grill and season with salt and pepper to taste.
1.1 literary Something that adds freshness or piquancy: he described danger as the salt of pleasure
zest, spice, piquancy, bite, edge;
vitality, liveliness, spirit, sparkle
informal zing, punch
2 Chemistry Any chemical compound formed from the reaction of an acid with a base, with all or part of the hydrogen of the acid replaced by a metal or other cation.
Example sentences
  • Amides are hydrolysed to ammonium salts with catalysis by acids or alkalis.
  • In some such compounds, the hydrogen atom in the carboxyl group is neutralized by reaction with a base, to form the metal salt of the fatty acid.
  • Sulfates are salts or esters of sulfuric acid, H 2 SO 4.
3 (usually old salt) informal An experienced sailor.
Example sentences
  • I guess that brings us back to the beginning - that there is no easy route or short answer to bridge the generation gap between our sharp young Sailors and old salts like me.
  • I used to jump off the boat to release the pots, but an old salt gave me a tip.
  • The jewel of the crew, known as Redman for obvious reasons, was an old salt with Navy SEAL experience, and had coffee and a ‘good morning ‘brewing at 5 a.m. daily.’


1Impregnated with, treated with, or tasting of salt: salt water salt beef
More example sentences
  • Mediaeval monks were aware of the benefits of salt mud and concentrated sea water and used them to treat rheumatism, dropsy and obesity.
  • My doctor has ordered me to take the salt air at Brighton for a few days.
  • Pamela waited, breathing in the salt air, gazing up at the brilliance above.
2(Of a plant) growing on the coast or in salt marshes.
Example sentences
  • In other places, especially where the terrain is slightly elevated or the bedrock was exposed, a salt shrub and grass community is found.
  • The farmer ripped and mounded by tractor through the patchy salt grasses, then brought lots of spoilt bales of straw down to be rolled out over the really squidgey bit.
  • There were about thirty tunnels in the mound complex, some as deep as three feet underground and snaking among the tough roots of the salt plants.


[with object]
1 (usually as adjective salted) Season or preserve with salt: cook the carrots in boiling salted water
More example sentences
  • In the past, we ate far more salted and preserved foods; today, with the advent of fridges, we eat more fresh food.
  • The standard accompaniment to salted beef or pork was either mustard or a similar condiment made from the seeds of the rocket plant, Eruca sativa.
  • Their menu varies from the noodle section to the usual rice dishes, offering Laksa Singapore to salted fish and fried rice.
1.1Make (something) piquant or more interesting: there was good talk to salt the occasion
More example sentences
  • I'm not sure whether satire shouldn't get its own category; but then, most great political works are salted with satire.
  • His work is salted with slogans and phrases in capital letters.
  • The speech was liberally salted with the standard Lathamite insults from Werriwa College of Invective.
1.2Sprinkle (a road or path) with salt in order to melt snow or ice.
Example sentences
  • The city seems to wait a week to see if the ice will melt before salting the roads.
  • However, these stretches of road are thoroughly salted to clear the snow and make them safe for road users.
  • The reason we gritted yesterday afternoon is that it is better to salt the roads before the snow falls.
2 informal Fraudulently make (a mine) appear to be a paying one by placing rich ore in it.
Example sentences
  • Phillip Arnold and John Slack salted a mine under claim to Stanton in Wyoming with uncut diamonds from South Africa.
3 (as adjective salted) (Of a horse) having developed a resistance to disease by surviving it.
Example sentences
  • To determine this I inoculated a "salted" horse, which had also had repeated large injections of virulent blood, with 50 c.c. of fresh blood. ...
  • It is what is termed in the South African colonies a "salted horse," or one which has shown itself impervious to the attacks of the tsetse fly.



rub salt into the (or someone's) wound

Make a painful experience even more painful for someone.
Example sentences
  • Unions today accused cash-strapped Southampton hospital bosses of rubbing salt into the wound after advertising for a new personnel director - with a salary of up to £95,000.
  • The shot went wide and Michael O'Leary rubbed salt into the wound by doubling his sides advantage almost immediately.
  • Maidenhead rubbed salt into the wound, leap-frogging Carshalton after winning their third consecutive game.

the salt of the earth

A person or group of people of great kindness, reliability, or honesty.
With biblical allusion to Matt 5:13
Example sentences
  • He was the salt of the earth, a man who was very obliging and very quiet.
  • I grew up in a small Australian country town and I have since then seen quite a bit of country people both in Australia and the USA and I have no hesitation in saying that to my mind country people are the salt of the earth.
  • John was the salt of the earth and a very sociable animal, well known in the Old Oak and Mill Tavern.

sit below the salt

Be of lower social standing or worth.
From the former custom of placing a large saltcellar in the middle of a dining table with the host at one end
Example sentences
  • The "salt" was passed from here up the table, and if you sat below the salt you were not only "not worth your salt" but you didn't get any.
  • At dinner, important people were seated ‘above the salt’, servants and low ranking individuals sat ‘below the salt’.

take something with a grain (or pinch) of salt

Regard something as exaggerated; believe only part of something: take a stock tip with a grain of salt
More example sentences
  • An AIB spokesman rejected the claim it was ripping off customers and said it took the report with a pinch of salt as it did not believe true like-for-like comparisons were made.
  • The next time someone says one bullet is vastly superior to another in regards to wind deflection, take their advice with a grain of salt and check for yourself.
  • Many personnel believe that no matter what they have to say, it will be taken with a grain of salt.

worth one's salt

Good or competent at the job or profession specified: any astrologer worth her salt would have predicted this
More example sentences
  • They further argue that no professional worth his salt would want to do other extra-curricular activity that somewhat demean him or her in some foreign land if he or she has the option of comfortably making ends meet at home.
  • Let's see if you are really worth your salt as a politician.
  • The argument that their active lives, and so income, are short, is nonsense, for any sportsperson worth their salt can carve a very good living from coaching, promotional and communications work.

Phrasal verbs


salt something away

informal Secretly store or put by something, especially money.
Example sentences
  • Maggie, tell me about more of the iceberg, because it's easy to imagine that the money would be salted away in gold bouillon or somewhere exotic, piles of cash sitting in some vault somewhere.
  • He told the court: ‘He has carefully salted this money away in safe places, in safe investments and property.’
  • In many countries resources and funds have been salted away by corrupt governments with the result that vital medical and educational programmes are unable to cope or have ceased functioning altogether.
save, put aside, put by, set aside, reserve, keep, store, stockpile, hoard, stow away
informal squirrel away, stash away

salt something out

Cause soap to separate from lye by adding salt.
Example sentences
  • After adding stronger lye, the mixture is boiled until a sample becomes firm on cooling; the soap is then "salted out", i. e., common salt or concentrated brine is added, in which the soap is insoluble.
Chemistry 2.1 Cause an organic compound to separate from an aqueous solution by adding an electrolyte.
Example sentences
  • Determinations carried out on some dileucine hydrochloride which had been salted out with NaCl showed that the NaCl in the preparation was there as a result of adhering mother liquor and therefore not in chemical combination.
  • Polymers such as poly(ethylene oxide) or poly(vinyl pyrrolidone) that are salted out by electrolytes usually show an inverse temperature solubility.



Example sentences
  • Hunter frequently employed his sense of taste in dissection, and encouraged his pupils to do likewise, as he recorded matter-of-factly: ‘The gastric juice is a fluid somewhat transparent, and a little saltish or brackish to the taste.’
  • The sweetness from the pumpkin would complement the slightly saltish luncheon.
  • Atharva was born of sweet water and Angiras was born of saltish water.


Example sentences
  • It would make a great antipasti and it's best sliced not too thinly, served with saltless Tuscan bread.
  • Rain fell like so many saltless tears and not a person in the entire city dared to go leave the shelter of their home.
  • From water filters and water conditioners to reverse osmosis systems and saltless water softeners, all of our products are warranted.


Pronunciation: /ˈsôltnəs/
Example sentences
  • Fill your tank with sea-water, and keep it at that saltness by marking the height at which the water stands on the sides. When it evaporates a little, pour in fresh water from the brook till it comes up to the mark, and then it will be right, for the salt does not evaporate with the water.
  • My blessing be on you till the sea loses its saltness and the trees forget to bud in springtime.


Old English sealt (noun), sealtan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zout and German Salz (nouns), from an Indo-European root shared by Latin sal, Greek hals 'salt'.

  • The root of salt is Latin sal, from which words such as salad, salami (mid 20th century), saline (Late Middle English), and sauce derive. A person who is the salt of the earth is kind, reliable, and honest. The phrase comes from St Matthew's Gospel: ‘Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?’ The expression sit below the salt, ‘to be of lower social standing’, goes back to the days when formal dinners were more common and when a person's rank determined where they sat at the table. Long dining tables running the length of the room were the norm, and those of the highest rank sat at the top end of the table, with the others arranged in descending order of status along the remaining length. The salt cellar was usually placed halfway down, and so anyone sitting below it knew they were socially inferior. Salt cellar itself has nothing to do with dark underground storage places. The second element was originally saler, which meant ‘salt box’ on its own. It came through Old French from Latin salarium, which also gave us salary—a salarium was originally a Roman soldier's allowance of money to buy salt. As early as the 15th century people did not fully understand saler and added salt in front of it. Finally it became a complete mystery, and they substituted the familiar cellar ( see cell). Before the invention of the refrigerator food was salted, or treated with salt, to preserve it. This is the idea behind salting away money for future use, an expression that dates from the 1840s.

Words that rhyme with salt

assault, Balt, exalt, fault, halt, malt, smalt, vault

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: salt

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There are 2 main definitions of salt in English:

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Pronunciation: /sôlt/

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: SALT

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