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[sawlt-sel-er] /ˈsɔltˌsɛl ər/
a shaker or dish for salt.
Origin of saltcellar
late Middle English
1400-50; salt1 + cellar, for earlier saler saltcellar, late Middle English < Old French saliere < Latin salāria, noun use of feminine of salārius (adj.) pertaining to salt, equivalent to sal salt1 + -ārius -ary Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for salt-cellar
Historical Examples
  • “I don't care,” said Caleb to himself, “for I have got the other half of the salt-cellar;” and he went back for that.

    Caleb in the Country Jacob Abbott
  • Dont dip your meat in the salt-cellar, or put your knife in your mouth.

  • Carefully avoid cutting bread with your own knife, or taking salt with it from the salt-cellar.

  • The second part of salt-cellar is not the same word as in wine-cellar.

  • Six months afterwards, the salt-cellar was produced to the children, who were astonished to see that the oil had disappeared.

  • This salt-cellar acted as a barometer, not for weather, but for rank.

    A Forgotten Hero Emily Sarah Holt
  • Mr. Mafferton occasionally removed his eyes from the salt-cellar during this meal, and even ventured a remark or two.

    An American Girl in London Sara Jeannette Duncan
  • Nalboon turned to Seaton, plainly asking for the salt-cellar.

    The Skylark of Space Edward Elmer Smith and Lee Hawkins Garby
  • But my poor mother would rather lose every salt-cellar, Colonel Cheffins, than have a man shot dead on her stairs.

    Witching Hill E. W. Hornung
  • The salt-cellar was put on a saucer, and covered with a glass tumbler.

British Dictionary definitions for salt-cellar


a small container for salt used at the table
(Brit, informal) either of the two hollows formed above the collarbones of very slim people
Word Origin
changed (through influence of cellar) from C15 salt saler; saler from Old French saliere container for salt, from Latin salārius belonging to salt, from sal salt
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for salt-cellar

mid-15c., from salt (n.) + saler "salt-cellar" (14c.), from Old French salier "salt box" (Modern French salière), from Latin salarium, noun use of adjective meaning "pertaining to salt," from a diminutive of Latin sal "salt." As the connection between *saler and "salt" was lost, salt- was tacked on to the beginning; second element altered on model of cellar.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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