Main definitions of salt in US English:

: salt1SALT2



  • 1A white crystalline substance which gives seawater its characteristic taste and is used for seasoning or preserving food.

    Alternative name: sodium chloride; chemical formula: NaCl. See sea salt

    • ‘Finely chop tomatoes and mix in bowl with lobster and egg whites and season with salt and pepper.’
    • ‘Lightly whisk the eggs in a large bowl and season with salt, pepper and herbs.’
    • ‘Add the braised chicken and season to taste with salt and pepper sauce.’
    • ‘Pour in the cream and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as necessary.’
    • ‘Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt.’
    • ‘Dress up a platter of fresh vegetables with a shallow dish of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar seasoned with salt and pepper.’
    • ‘As the class drew to a close we talked about nutrition and how some folks made it a choice to eat a healthier diet with less fat, less sugar, less salt and less fast food.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, blend the remaining ingredients in a food processor until combined, then season with salt to taste.’
    • ‘In these products, salt seasons the food but is not necessary to ensure its safety.’
    • ‘Lay the marinated turkey strips on the grill and season with salt and pepper to taste.’
    • ‘Place the flour, Parmesan, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor and blend briefly.’
    • ‘Once the cheese has melted, add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.’
    • ‘Correct seasoning with salt, pepper and maybe a pinch of sugar.’
    • ‘In pure form, the way we mostly see it, salt is white and crystalline.’
    • ‘Place the flour, oatmeal and a pinch of salt in a food processor with the butter.’
    • ‘Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and either lemon juice or wine vinegar.’
    • ‘Add white soy sauce and milk, season with salt and pepper to taste and bring to a simmer.’
    • ‘When preparing foods for your baby you should also avoid adding additional flavours such as salt and sugar as babies can't cope with excess salt in food or sugar and do not need it.’
    • ‘For the pastry, first sift both the flours and half a teaspoon of salt in a food processor.’
    • ‘When just tender, mix in all the rest of the ingredients with salt to taste.’
    sodium chloride
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1literary Something which adds freshness or piquancy.
      ‘he described danger as the salt of pleasure’
      zest, spice, spiciness, sharpness, raciness, saltiness
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A saltcellar.
  • 2Chemistry
    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.

    • ‘Samples were pre-incubated with various concentrations of chloride salts of the monovalent cations and then assayed using the standard procedure.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Many common metal hydroxides (with the exceptions of the salts of the alkali metals and some of the alkaline earth metals) are insoluble in water.’
    • ‘Amides are hydrolysed to ammonium salts with catalysis by acids or alkalis.’
  • 3usually old saltinformal An experienced sailor.

    • ‘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.’’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If you're an old salt yourself, or enjoy the carousing tales of the mariners, then you will enjoy the book and perhaps even have met some of the characters.’
    • ‘I used to jump off the boat to release the pots, but an old salt gave me a tip.’
    • ‘I looked out across Poole Harbour, searching for the dolphin as directed by the local old salt.’
    sailor, seafarer, seafaring man, mariner, boatman, hand, crew member, rating
    seaman, sailor, seafarer, seafaring man, mariner, boatman, hand, crew member, rating
    View synonyms


  • 1Impregnated with, treated with, or tasting of salt.

    ‘salt water’
    ‘salt beef’
    • ‘Whether you're sniffing the olive trees ashore or the salt spray on the water, the very air reeks of history.’
    • ‘Fish born in the river swim downstream to the salt waters of the North Pacific.’
    • ‘Enjoy the warmth from your suite's fireplace, open your balcony doors to the salt air, and scan the neighboring red cedars for bald eagles.’
    • ‘Buenos Aires on the River Plate became a major Atlantic port, outlet for Peru's silver and for its own hides and salt beef.’
    • ‘I could smell the salt air as it whipped through my hair and my chiton.’
    • ‘They were in a cluster of warehouses, and the smell of salt air told him the docks were nearby.’
    • ‘She was constantly exposed to salt water and salt spray and when at sea she was drenched more often than she was dry.’
    • ‘It is also treated with inorganic salt solutions which slow down the combustion.’
    • ‘North past County Line and the smells are heavy salt air and sometimes a little blowing dirt.’
    • ‘We had Rice and Beans with salt beef in it, barbecued chicken, and macaroni and cheese… excellent!’
    • ‘My doctor has ordered me to take the salt air at Brighton for a few days.’
    • ‘Mediaeval monks were aware of the benefits of salt mud and concentrated sea water and used them to treat rheumatism, dropsy and obesity.’
    • ‘During the wintertime, sponge off salt stains with clear water.’
    • ‘Pamela waited, breathing in the salt air, gazing up at the brilliance above.’
    • ‘Pellerin says that while some salt dust is always floating in the mine's air, the salt air is dry, so it doesn't corrode equipment any faster than normal.’
    • ‘She smelled the salt air and glanced along the lush hills of the glorious Emerald Isles.’
    • ‘As she stepped out into the air, the salt air hit her and she inhaled deeply in its essence.’
    • ‘All iron swords, mail axes and things would be in sealed and greased barrels below deck to try to stop them from rusting in the salt air.’
    • ‘He took in the cooling salt air and paused to listen to a gull's cry past a hedge of trees.’
    • ‘She closed her eyes, smelling the salt sea air, feeling the wind in her hair; William watched her and sighed.’
    salty, salted, saline, briny, brackish
    View synonyms
  • 2(of a plant) growing on the coast or in salt marshes.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In other places, especially where the terrain is slightly elevated or the bedrock was exposed, a salt shrub and grass community is found.’
    • ‘In looking for ways to get rid of the salt hay, or at the very least control its further spread, the CHRA discovered a potential market for it.’


[with object]
  • 1usually as adjective saltedSeason or preserve with salt.

    ‘cook the carrots in boiling salted water’
    • ‘We met some real Chicago natives and they showed us their techniques for eating salted peanuts whole in the shell.’
    • ‘I doubled the quantity of garlic, added about a teaspoon of hot pepper flakes, and topped the dish with some ground dry-roasted salted peanuts.’
    • ‘Sausage is from the Latin salsus (salted): the Romans made sausages of salted meat to eat during the winter months.’
    • ‘On bronze and copper platters were meats of every kind - honey-roast chicken, minted lamb, rabbit stew in black pots, salted pork, sliced ham and even a suckling pig.’
    • ‘Properly dried and salted codfish would keep for long periods, an important consideration before refrigeration.’
    • ‘Their menu varies from the noodle section to the usual rice dishes, offering Laksa Singapore to salted fish and fried rice.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Oysters are most often served in the shell on a bed of crushed ice - although some purists argue that this dulls their flavor - with thin slices of rye bread, salted butter, and lemon juice.’
    • ‘Stay away from candied or heavily salted nuts, and opt for raw nuts such as those by Planters.’
    • ‘In the past, we ate far more salted and preserved foods; today, with the advent of fridges, we eat more fresh food.’
    • ‘I was given a packet of salted almonds on the airplane.’
    • ‘I was about to bake them with just a little sugar, when I saw a little box of salted butter caramels on the counter, a souvenir from Brittany, and thought I would use a few to sweeten the fruit instead.’
    • ‘She wrapped one of the loaves of bread she had baked that morning in some brown paper, along with a little salted meat.’
    • ‘The plain, salted pretzels weren't ready, but ones stuffed with either cheese or apple cinnamon were available.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, stir-fry garlic until it smells fragrant, add in salted soya beans, stir well.’
    • ‘When you go to the cinema, do you have sweet or salted popcorn?’
    • ‘Nothing beats a well salted slice of cucumber on a hot day.’
    • ‘These boats were loaded with all kinds of goods, from eggs to veggies and, of course, salted bacon and hams.’
    • ‘A quarter-cup of roasted and salted sunflower seeds contains 200 calories, more than 200 mg of salt and 17 g total fat.’
    • ‘Melt together 70g of salted butter and 50g honey in a small saucepan, and pour this into your dough.’
    1. 1.1 Make (something) piquant or more interesting.
      ‘there was good talk to salt the occasion’
      • ‘The speech was liberally salted with the standard Lathamite insults from Werriwa College of Invective.’
      • ‘But it's richly salted with fascinating cultural lore, and an engaging read whether you're a carrot-top or not.’
      • ‘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 book is salted with introspective passages that document the author's increasingly obsessive antiwar bias.’
  • 2Sprinkle (a road or path) with salt in order to melt snow or ice.

    • ‘We drove out over the ice-rink of a lane from the house and onto the main road, which had been salted and was clear apart from a thin layer of sludge and the occasional patch of ice.’
    • ‘Over the course of the week Local Authorities worked around the clock to improve travel conditions by gritting and salting roads in urban areas.’
    • ‘The snow was up to the tires and the salt truck had not come by to salt the roads.’
    • ‘The city seems to wait a week to see if the ice will melt before salting the roads.’
    • ‘Teams from May Gurney were out again salting major roads at about 4am today and during the morning were out clearing town centre footways and salting secondary roads.’
    • ‘There was no snow falling, there was none on the ground, and there was only a little bit of ice on the roads that hadn't been salted yet.’
    • ‘However, these stretches of road are thoroughly salted to clear the snow and make them safe for road users.’
    • ‘In that case the context was a very different one, namely the failure of an authority to salt or grit the road when there had been a weather forecast of freezing conditions.’
    • ‘The city authorities had to call for help from the truck owners to give them a hand in pouring sand and salting the frozen and slippery avenues of Tehran.’
    • ‘Pembrokeshire County Council had 14 gritting lorries on continuous patrol to salt the roads.’
    • ‘We salt the roads to prevent ice and snow from sticking to road surface.’
    • ‘The recent frosty spell led to a deterioration of the surface of some routes after Kildare County Council staff salted them.’
    • ‘But, after the Hopgrove roundabout, the roads have all been wet as a result of being salted.’
    • ‘The reason we gritted yesterday afternoon is that it is better to salt the roads before the snow falls.’
  • 3informal Fraudulently make (a mine) appear to be a paying one by placing rich ore into it.

    • ‘Phillip Arnold and John Slack salted a mine under claim to Stanton in Wyoming with uncut diamonds from South Africa.’
  • 4as adjective salted(of a horse) having developed a resistance to disease by surviving it.

    • ‘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.

      • ‘To rub salt into the wound the referee blew the final whistle as Ilkley kicked-off.’
      • ‘Just to rub salt into the wound, the Judge also ordered that the mother can only visit the children if supervised by a court appointed representative, and that the cost of this would be over $1, 000 a day to the mother.’
      • ‘He's done it a thousand times and you come off second best, looking for somewhere to crawl to while he rubs salt into the wound and others in the audience roll about laughing at your discomfort.’
      • ‘Maidenhead rubbed salt into the wound, leap-frogging Carshalton after winning their third consecutive game.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Hughes rubbed salt into the wound for North End by scoring the resulting penalty.’
      • ‘Flutey's kicking nightmare continued as he fluffed the conversion and Hodgson slotted another three points on the stroke of half-time to rub salt into the wound.’
      • ‘The shot went wide and Michael O'Leary rubbed salt into the wound by doubling his sides advantage almost immediately.’
      • ‘Bereavement always enhances associational sensitivity and by doing so rubs salt into the wound.’
      • ‘The programme is terminated after six months and to rub salt into the wound these interns are then not considered when the positions are available.’
  • the salt of the earth

    • A person or group of people of great kindness, reliability, or honesty.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Perennially cheerful, Vera is the salt of the earth.’
      • ‘Life in Salford was rough, though the people were marvellous, the salt of the earth.’
      • ‘There is always more to learn, and like vegetable growers, flower growers are the salt of the earth, always willing to share what they know.’
      • ‘John was the salt of the earth and a very sociable animal, well known in the Old Oak and Mill Tavern.’
      • ‘They were good lads, the salt of the earth, yet I can't remember any of their names.’
      • ‘He is an exceptional young man - the salt of the earth - and at his age he is already showing a lot of leadership.’
      • ‘It was a fantastic night, the staff were so nice and the other punters were the salt of the earth.’
      • ‘I have nothing but respect for lower league fans - they are the salt of the earth as far as football support is concerned.’
  • sit below the salt

    • Be of lower social standing or worth.

      • ‘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’.’
  • worth one's salt

    • Good or competent at the job or profession specified.

      ‘any astrologer worth her salt would have predicted this’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Any scientist worth their salt will point out many ways in which their theories can be proven wrong.’
      • ‘But, as any proselytiser of right-wing economics worth their salt will tell you, free trade agreements don't work, either ideologically or practically.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Any childminder worth their salt should provide an excellent environment for children of any age.’
      • ‘Forget a lazy few hours of relaxing and leafing your way leisurely through the papers - any parent worth their salt will be filling every second of their family life with enriching, life-enhancing activities.’
      • ‘Personal trainers that are worth their salt, can spot poor alignment, correct it and make sure that you are doing the exercise properly.’
      • ‘Any nutritionist worth their salt would point you in the direction of the meal with high fiber, protein, and natural ingredients.’
      • ‘Let's see if you are really worth your salt as a politician.’
      • ‘Like most musicians worth their salt, Phelps enjoys recording but his true love can be found playing live.’
  • 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘That is the thing about overall stats like this, you have to take them with a grain of salt.’
      • ‘I took the knocking with a pinch of salt even though in many cases the awful truth, which can hurt, is revealed for all the world to see.’
      • ‘Since I had no recourse to take this route, I took the stories with a pinch of salt and never checked them out.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For the moment I am taking this report with a grain of salt, since previous sightings of Iranian infiltrators have often been proven inaccurate later on.’
      • ‘Not that I know what the proper remedy is, other than to teach students to be more aware and science-literate by the time they finish high school, so can they take simple headlines with a grain of salt.’
      • ‘Labour could have done this when they were office. We should take their comments with a pinch of salt.’
      • ‘Many personnel believe that no matter what they have to say, it will be taken with a grain of salt.’
      • ‘I'm on the other side of the fence, and I've been critical of some of you lately, so I'll understand if you take my advice with a grain of salt.’
      disbelieve, not believe, not credit, give no credence to, discredit, discount, doubt, distrust, mistrust, be suspicious of, have no confidence in, have no faith in, be incredulous of, be unconvinced about
      View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

  • salt something away

    • Secretly store or put by something, especially money.

      • ‘As I have said I am satisfied it is salted away, therefore in his case, I make a Confiscation Order of the lesser of the two sums, that is the benefit figure, £139, 260 with a three year term imprisonment in default.’
      • ‘The real truth about the surplus - and what the Government is not telling the people - is that Michael Cullen has no idea where it came from and he is salting it away for a rainy day.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They weren't expecting it after all so they may as well pretend they're not getting it and salt it away for their child's future.’
      • ‘He said she was rather tight-fisted with hers preferring to salt it away in a savings account and he felt lumbered with paying for most of the household bills as well as the fun things in life like holidays and meals out.’
      • ‘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.’’
      save, put aside, put away, put by, lay by, set aside, lay aside, put to one side, reserve, keep in reserve, deposit, keep, store, stockpile, hoard, stow away, cache
      View synonyms
  • salt something out

    • 1Cause soap to separate from lye by adding salt.

      • ‘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.’
      1. 1.1Cause an organic compound to separate from an aqueous solution by adding an electrolyte.
        • ‘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.’


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’.




Main definitions of salt in US English:

: salt1SALT2



  • Strategic Arms Limitation Talks.