How Well Do You Know English Slang?
Old English sealt "salt" (n.; also as an adjective, "salty, briny"), from Proto-Germanic *saltom (cf. Old Saxon, Old Norse, Old Frisian, Gothic salt, Dutch zout, German Salz), from PIE *sal- "salt" (cf. Greek hals "salt, sea," Latin sal, Old Church Slavonic soli, Old Irish salann, Welsh halen "salt").
Modern chemistry sense is from 1790. Meaning "experienced sailor" is first attested 1840, in reference to the salinity of the sea. Salt was long regarded as having power to repel spiritual and magical evil. Many metaphoric uses reflect that this was once a rare and important resource, e.g. worth one's salt (1830), salt of the earth (Old English, after Matt. v:13). Belief that spilling salt brings bad luck is attested from 16c. To be above (or below) the salt (1590s) refers to customs of seating at a long table according to rank or honor, and placing a large salt-cellar in the middle of the dining table.
Salt-lick first recorded 1751; salt-marsh is Old English sealtne mersc; salt-shaker is from 1882. Salt-and-pepper "of dark and light color" first recorded 1915. To take something with a grain of salt is from 1640s, from Modern Latin cum grano salis.
Old English sealtan, from Proto-Germanic *salto- (see salt (n.)), and in part from the noun. Related: Salted; salting.
Cold War U.S.-U.S.S.R. nuclear weapons negotiations, 1968, acronym for Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (which would make SALT talks redundant, but the last element sometimes also is understood as treaty).
A colorless or white crystalline solid, chiefly sodium chloride, used extensively as a food seasoning and preservative.
A chemical compound replacing all or part of the hydrogen ions of an acid with metal ions or electropositive radicals.
salts Any of various mineral salts, such as magnesium sulfate, sodium sulfate, or potassium sodium tartrate, used as laxatives or cathartics.
salts Smelling salts.
salts Epsom salts.
used to season food (Job 6:6), and mixed with the fodder of cattle (Isa. 30:24, "clean;" in marg. of R.V. "salted"). All meat-offerings were seasoned with salt (Lev. 2:13). To eat salt with one is to partake of his hospitality, to derive subsistence from him; and hence he who did so was bound to look after his host's interests (Ezra 4:14, "We have maintenance from the king's palace;" A.V. marg., "We are salted with the salt of the palace;" R.V., "We eat the salt of the palace"). A "covenant of salt" (Num. 18:19; 2 Chr. 13:5) was a covenant of perpetual obligation. New-born children were rubbed with salt (Ezek. 16:4). Disciples are likened unto salt, with reference to its cleansing and preserving uses (Matt. 5:13). When Abimelech took the city of Shechem, he sowed the place with salt, that it might always remain a barren soil (Judg. 9:45). Sir Lyon Playfair argues, on scientific grounds, that under the generic name of "salt," in certain passages, we are to understand petroleum or its residue asphalt. Thus in Gen. 19:26 he would read "pillar of asphalt;" and in Matt. 5:13, instead of "salt," "petroleum," which loses its essence by exposure, as salt does not, and becomes asphalt, with which pavements were made. The Jebel Usdum, to the south of the Dead Sea, is a mountain of rock salt about 7 miles long and from 2 to 3 miles wide and some hundreds of feet high.