sal volatile

[sal voh-lat-l-ee]


an aromatic alcoholic solution of ammonium carbonate, the chief ingredient in smelling salts.

Origin of sal volatile

1645–55; < New Latin: volatile salt Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sal volatile

Historical Examples of sal volatile

  • He was drinking a dose of sal-volatile, and admiring its opal tint.

    The Napoleon of Notting Hill

    Gilbert K. Chesterton

  • I actually wound up by administering some sal-volatile to her.'

    Robert Elsmere

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • He had some sal-volatile in his dressing-case, and he made her take it.

    The Soul Stealer

    Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull

  • But come upstairs, Annie; I must get you some sal-volatile at once.

  • She sipped the sal-volatile, and gave him a dim, crooked smile.

British Dictionary definitions for sal volatile

sal volatile


another name for ammonium carbonate
Also called: spirits of ammonia, (archaic) hartshorn a solution of ammonium carbonate in alcohol and aqueous ammonia, often containing aromatic oils, used as smelling salts

Word Origin for sal volatile

C17: from New Latin: volatile 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

Word Origin and History for sal volatile

1650s, Modern Latin, literally "volatile salt" (see salt (n.) + volatile); ammonium carbonate, especially as used in reviving persons who have fainted.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper