Definition of saltation in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌsôlˈtāSHən/


1 Biology Abrupt evolutionary change; sudden large-scale mutation.
Example sentences
  • He gave examples of new races formed in sudden jumps or saltations to illustrate that ‘the evolution of organisms may… be a much more rapid process than Darwin believes.’
  • In a phylogenetic dendrogram, branches and twigs here and there show saltations into a new grade.
  • But accepting the data at face value raises the interesting possibility that hierarchy may be quite labile, that hierarchical saltations may be relatively easy in evolution.
2 Geology The movement of hard particles such as sand over an uneven surface in a turbulent flow of air or water.
Example sentences
  • Eroded sediment can be transported by creep, saltation, or suspension, and where much fine soil or sediment is present, dust clouds can result.
  • Although the dunes near Parker seem to be an extension of this same sandflow path, Muhs says that saltation couldn't carry grains of sand across the Colorado River.
  • This process, in which sand grains bounce downwind, is called saltation.
3 archaic The action of leaping or dancing.
Example sentences
  • In addition to the dorso-ventral flexion seen during saltation, the sacroiliac joint often allows varying degrees of lateral movement.
  • These actions are important in the effective use of the hindlimbs during terrestrial saltation and swimming.



Pronunciation: /ˈsaltəˌtôrē/ Pronunciation: /ˈsôl-/
Example sentences
  • The myelin acts as a layer of high electrical resistance and low capacitance, facilitating the rapid saltatory conduction of electrical impulses from node to node for long distances along axons that may be up to 1 m in length.
  • The saltatory nature of this type of flight results in extreme linear and angular displacements of the bird's body; however, birds isolate their heads from these accelerations with cervical reflexes.
  • The species possesses paired, elongate lateral spines that function in saltatory sweeping motions in response to sheer disturbances by predators.


Early 17th century (sense 3): from Latin saltatio(n-), from saltare 'to dance', frequentative of salire 'to leap'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sal·ta·tion

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