- the form of potassium nitrate, KNO3, that occurs naturally, used in the manufacture of fireworks, fluxes, gunpowder, etc.; niter.
- Chile saltpeter.
Origin of saltpeter
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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for saltpetre
Lay the head into water one night, then drain it, salt it extremely well with common salt and saltpetre, and let it lie five days.
Gunpowder was also made with saltpetre and sulphur found in the country.In the Forbidden Land
Arnold Henry Savage Landor
This is principally due to the saltpetre with which it is impregnated.
What proportion of nitre does the saltpetre of the nitrate caves afford?James Cutbush
Edgar F. Smith
There was a smell in his nostrils like charring wool and saltpetre.The Dop Doctor
Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
C16: from Old French salpetre, from Latin sal petrae salt of rock
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
Word Origin and History for saltpetre
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- See potassium nitrate.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.