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[sal-tey-shuh n] /sælˈteɪ ʃən/
a dancing, hopping, or leaping movement.
an abrupt movement or transition.
Geology. intermittent, leaping movement of particles of sand or gravel, as from the force of wind or running water.
  1. a sudden discontinuity in a line of descent.
  2. a mutation.
Origin of saltation
1640-50; < Latin saltātiōn- (stem of saltātiō) a dancing, equivalent to saltāt(us) (past participle of saltāre; see saltant) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
saltational, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for saltation
Historical Examples
  • Particles are transported by winds through suspension, saltation, and creep.

    Deserts A. S. Walker
  • saltation is downwind movement of particles in a series of jumps or skips.

    Deserts A. S. Walker
  • A saltating grain may hit other grains that jump up to continue the saltation.

    Deserts A. S. Walker
  • As an adaptation to saltation the tibia would elongate at the expense of the femur and the index would be more than 100.

  • Long tail and long hind foot would seem to be specializations for saltation and the two would be expected to be correlated.

  • Sand sheets are flat, gently undulating sandy plots of sand surfaced by grains that may be too large for saltation.

    Deserts A. S. Walker
  • In the heat of noon, in the cool of the evening, day after day there was no rest for them, their saltation was without end.

  • Life must be taken with a grain of saltation: let the spirit dance a measure or two ere it collapse.


    Christopher Morley
British Dictionary definitions for saltation


(biology) an abrupt variation in the appearance of an organism, species, etc, usually caused by genetic mutation
(geology) the leaping movement of sand or soil particles carried in water or by the wind
a sudden abrupt movement or transition
Word Origin
C17: from Latin saltātiō a dance, from saltāre to leap about
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 saltation

"a leap, a bound," 1620s, from Latin saltationem (nominative saltatio) "a dancing; dance," noun of action from past participle stem of saltare "to hop, dance," frequentative of salire "to leap" (see salient (adj.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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saltation in Medicine

saltation sal·ta·tion (sāl-tā'shən, sôl-)

  1. The act of leaping, jumping, or dancing.

  2. Discontinuous movement, transition, or development; advancement by leaps as of a disease or physiologic function.

  3. A single mutation that drastically alters the phenotype.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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saltation in Science
  (sāl-tā'shən, sôl-)   
A single mutation that drastically alters the phenotype.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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