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saltpeter

[sawlt-pee-ter] /ˌsɔltˈpi tər/
noun
1.
the form of potassium nitrate, KNO 3 , that occurs naturally, used in the manufacture of fireworks, fluxes, gunpowder, etc.; niter.
Also, saltpetre.
Origin
1275-1325
1275-1325; earlier salt peter; replacing Middle English sal peter, salpetre < Medieval Latin salpetrē, for Latin sal petrae salt of rock, so called because it commonly encrusts stones
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Word Origin and History for salt-peter

saltpeter

n.

"potassium nitrate," c.1500, earlier salpetre (early 14c.), from Old French salpetre, from Medieval Latin sal petrae "salt of rock," from Latin sal "salt" (see salt (n.)) + petra "rock, stone" (see petrous). So called because it looks like salt encrusted on rock.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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salt-peter in Science
saltpeter
  (sôlt'pē'tər)   
See potassium nitrate.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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