saltpetre

saltpeter

[sawlt-pee-ter]
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; 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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World English Dictionary
saltpetre or (US) saltpeter (ˌsɔːltˈpiːtə)
 
n
1.  another name for potassium nitrate
2.  short for Chile saltpetre
 
[C16: from Old French salpetre, from Latin sal petrae salt of rock]
 
saltpeter or (US) saltpeter
 
n
 
[C16: from Old French salpetre, from Latin sal petrae salt of rock]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

saltpeter
"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
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
saltpeter   (sôlt'pē'tər)  Pronunciation Key 
See potassium nitrate.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
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