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saltpeter

or saltpetre

[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.
Origin of saltpeter
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
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for saltpeter
Historical Examples
  • Rub fish with salt, brown sugar and saltpeter as above directed.

    Every Step in Canning Grace Viall Gray
  • They found a place where saltpeter was very thinly and erratically distributed.

    Space Prison Tom Godwin
  • Nitrogen can be obtained from the air, even now, and made into fertilizers even cheaper than the Chili saltpeter.

    The Air Trust George Allan England
  • In 1792, it was the Venetian Embassy, under the Terreur a saltpeter factory.

    Historic Paris Jetta S. Wolff
  • During recent centuries ordinary brown paper soaked in saltpeter and dried was utilized satisfactorily as an inflammable material.

    Artificial Light M. Luckiesh
  • Dissolve the saltpeter in the vitriol and add it to the water.

  • All these explosives are made from nitric acid and this used to be made from nitrates such as potassium nitrate or saltpeter.

    Creative Chemistry Edwin E. Slosson
  • Corned and smoked meats are usually preserved with saltpeter.

  • I received letters from Brecknock; that the saltpeter man was dead and buried the Sunday before the messenger came.

  • In pickling the hams they are first vigorously rubbed with saltpeter and then with salt.

    Home Pork Making A. W. Fulton
Word Origin and History for 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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saltpeter 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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