saltpeter

or salt·pe·tre

[ sawlt-pee-ter ]
/ ˌsɔltˈpi tər /

noun

the form of potassium nitrate, KNO3, that occurs naturally, used in the manufacture of fireworks, fluxes, gunpowder, etc.; niter.

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for saltpetre

British Dictionary definitions for saltpetre

saltpetre

US saltpeter

/ (ˌsɔːltˈpiːtə) /

noun

another name for potassium nitrate
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

Science definitions for saltpetre

saltpeter
[ sôlttər ]

See potassium nitrate.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.