or salt·pe·tre



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

Nearby words

  1. saltness,
  2. salto,
  3. salton sea,
  4. salton sink,
  5. saltpan,
  6. saltpetre,
  7. salts,
  8. saltus,
  9. saltwater,
  10. saltwater taffy

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for saltpetre

British Dictionary definitions for saltpetre


US saltpeter


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

Word Origin and History for saltpetre
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for saltpetre



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