the form of potassium nitrate, KNO 3 , that occurs naturally, used in the manufacture of fireworks, fluxes, gunpowder, etc.; niter.
Also, saltpetre.

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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To salt-peter
Word Origin & History

"potassium nitrate," c.1500, earlier salpetre (early 14c.), from O.Fr. salpetre, from M.L. sal petrae "salt of rock," from L. sal "salt" (see salt) + petra "rock, stone." So called because it looks like salt encrusted on rock.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Science Dictionary
saltpeter   (sôlt'pē'tər)  Pronunciation Key 
See potassium nitrate.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature