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[sav, sahv] /sæv, sɑv/
a medicinal ointment for healing or relieving wounds and sores.
anything that soothes, mollifies, or relieves.
verb (used with object), salved, salving.
to soothe with or as if with salve; assuage:
to salve one's conscience.
Origin of salve1
before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English sealf; cognate with German Salbe salve, Sanskrit sarpis melted butter; (v.) Middle English salven, Old English sealfian
3. ease, alleviate, mollify.


[salv] /sælv/
verb (used with or without object), salved, salving.
to save from loss or destruction; to salvage.
1700-10; back formation from salvage Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for salving
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In an hour from the time of salving the flying-boat the "Meteor" was ready to shed her now superfluous 'midship divisions.

    The Dreadnought of the Air Percy F. Westerman
  • Then, with the salving of his torment, his senses seemed to return.

    Neighbors Unknown Charles G. D. Roberts
  • Having been remiss in her duty, Miss Lupton was salving her conscience by being extra severe now.

    The Highgrader William MacLeod Raine
  • I worked all day now, salving and boating off a cargo to the sloop.

  • We scrambled out as best we could, and lost no time in salving the mailbag and our instruments.

  • But he did not remember to have heard that the salving of derelict hospitals was one of Sir Leopold's hobbies.

  • I won't have you fighting with buyers, taking their insults, kowtowing to them, salving them.

    Roast Beef, Medium Edna Ferber
  • If I can reach it in time and beach her, there may be one chance in a thousand of salving her, after all.

  • It is easy to scold, hard alike to salve and save; but the salving and saving must be done.

    Criminal Types V. M. Masten
British Dictionary definitions for salving


/sælv; sɑːv/
an ointment for wounds, sores, etc
anything that heals or soothes
verb (transitive)
to apply salve to (a wound, sore, etc)
to soothe, comfort, or appease
Word Origin
Old English sealf; related to Old High German salba, Greek elpos oil, Sanskrit sarpis lard


a less common word for salvage
an archaic word for save1 (sense 3)
Word Origin
C18: from salvage
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 salving



Old English sealf "healing ointment," from West Germanic *salbo- "oily substance" (cf. Old Saxon salba, Middle Dutch salve, Dutch zalf, Old High German salba, German salbe "ointment"), from PIE *solpa-, from root *selp- "fat, butter" (cf. Greek elpos "fat, oil," Sanskrit sarpis "melted butter"). The figurative sense of "something to soothe wounded pride, etc." is from 1736.


Old English sealfian "anoint (a wound) with salve," from Proto-Germanic *salbojanan (cf. Dutch zalven, German salben, Gothic salbon "to anoint"), from the root of salve (n.). Figurative use from c.1200. Related: Salved; salving.

"to save from loss at sea," 1706, back-formation from salvage (n.) or salvable. Related: Salved; salving.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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salving in Medicine

salve (sāv, säv)
An analgesic or medicinal ointment.

salve v.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for salving



  1. Butter (1915+ Hoboes)
  2. Cajolement; flattery; soft soap: I handed him a little salve (1864+)
  3. A bribe; palm oil (1940s+)
  4. Money, esp as a remedy or reward for something unpleasant (1940s+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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