One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Biology. The first trace of the heart in an embryo, appearing as a pulsating point. Compare "salient point". Now chiefly historical.
2Figurative. A starting point; a source or origin of life or activity. In later use also: the heart of a matter, the central or most important point.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in William Harvey (1578–1657), physician and discoverer of the circulation of the blood. From post-classical Latin punctum saliens from classical Latin punctum + saliēns, present participle of salīre to leap.
punctum saliens/ˌpʌŋ(k)təm ˈseɪlɪɛnz/
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