or salt·pe·tre


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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for saltpetre

Historical Examples of saltpetre

British Dictionary definitions for saltpetre


US saltpeter

  1. another name for potassium nitrate
  2. short for Chile saltpetre

Word Origin for saltpetre

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

chiefly British English spelling of saltpeter (q.v.); for ending, see -re.



"potassium nitrate," c.1500, earlier salpetre (early 14c.), from Old French salpetre, from Medieval Latin sal petrae "salt of rock," from Latin sal "salt" (see salt (n.)) + petra "rock, stone" (see petrous). So called because it looks like salt encrusted on rock.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

saltpetre in Science


  1. See potassium nitrate.
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