Definition of salvage in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsalvij/


[with object]
1Rescue (a wrecked or disabled ship or its cargo) from loss at sea: an emerald and gold cross was salvaged from the wreck
More example sentences
  • The rescue boat attempted to salvage the smaller vessel yesterday.
  • A number of attempts were made to salvage the ship but when they failed she was dispersed using explosives.
  • Attempts to salvage the ship were hampered by thick fog on Saturday night and the bad weather continued yesterday morning, French coastguards said.
rescue, save, recover, retrieve, raise, reclaim
1.1Retrieve or preserve (something) from potential loss or adverse circumstances: it was the only crumb of comfort he could salvage from the ordeal
More example sentences
  • The threat to Mr Trimble's leadership will be assessed at the launch of a new round of intense talks aimed at salvaging the peace process in Downing Street today.
  • But public relations guru Max Clifford said he needs to start a media campaign to help him ‘win friends and influence people’ if he is to stand any chance of salvaging his career.
  • He still ‘feels like a Celtic player’ but appreciates there is no prospect of him salvaging his reputation under O'Neill.
retain, preserve, conserve;
regain, recoup, redeem, snatch


1The rescue of a wrecked or disabled ship or its cargo from loss at sea: [as modifier]: a salvage operation was under way
More example sentences
  • Smit Marine, which is running salvage operations on both ships, has been both airlifting fuel off the Sagitarius and burning it off.
  • The technical details of its salvage are one of the truly great stories of deep-sea salvage operations.
  • A salvage operation was underway to find the helicopters' black box flight recorders and weapons.
rescue, recovery, reclamation
1.1The cargo saved from a wrecked or sunken ship: salvage taken from a ship that had sunk in the river
More example sentences
  • The salvage included a representative group of the earliest Colombian silver cobs, some dispersed privately, others offered at the Christie's New York auction of June, 1988.
  • Only Key West, the last link in the chain, had anything like a town, its fortune based on selling salvage from ships wrecked on the reef that shadows the Keys.
1.2The rescue of property or material from potential loss or destruction.
Example sentences
  • In the case of rehabilitation or remodeling, LEED points can be earned through salvage and reuse of materials.
  • It may be that the plane reached the site as a result of salvage or scavenging from a more wealthy site in the neighbourhood which had been abandoned.
  • Should you find the entire sub floor to be too badly damaged for salvage, it will be best to lay new one.
1.3 Law Payment made or due to a person who has saved a ship or its cargo.
Example sentences
  • The reward for such assistance was a generous salvage payment based on the percentage of the value of the saved cargo and boat.
  • The Crown or the owner of the property pays this salvage payment, or the finder may receive the property instead of payment.
  • If the insurer exercises the option to replace the automobile or pays the actual cash value of the automobile, the salvage, if any, shall vest in the insurer.



Example sentences
  • He says he'll have his people cut and refit whatever is salvageable to clean up some problems, like the balky radar receiver, but some things, like the starboard weapons array and armor, are little more than fused scrap now.
  • He was trying to estimate the scrap value of steel, copper, aluminum, and salvageable brick and other salvageable materials like doors and toilets.
  • Unharmed or salvageable from the attack were land installation, power stations, all submarines and stores of gasoline. The gasoline enabled shipyards to repair all the salvageable ships.


Example sentences
  • The story goes, after discovering a passenger ship missing since 1953 floating adrift on the Bering Sea, salvagers claim the vessel as their own.
  • The hulls lie in relatively shallow water and have long been raided by salvagers and souvenir hunters, despite their status as war graves.
  • The 44,000 tonne Prestige had sustained a near 50 ft crack in the hull below the waterline that made it unable to proceed under its own power while salvagers sought a port to do repairs or transfer the oil to another vessel.


Mid 17th century (as a noun denoting payment for saving a ship or its cargo): from French, from medieval Latin salvagium, from Latin salvare 'to save'. The verb dates from the late 19th century.

  • safety from Middle English:

    Like safe, this ultimately comes from Latin salvus ‘uninjured, safe’, also the source of salvage (late 17th century) originally payment for saving a ship, salver, salvation (Middle English), and save. The proverb there is safety in numbers has echoes in the biblical Proverbs: ‘In the multitude of counsellors there is safety’. The first to use the modern phrasing was Jane Austen in her novel Emma, published in 1814: ‘She determined to call upon them and seek safety in numbers.’

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sal·vage

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