adjective, salt·i·er, salt·i·est.

tasting of or containing salt; saline.
piquant; sharp; witty.
racy or coarse: salty humor.
of the sea, sailing, or life at sea.

Origin of salty

late Middle English word dating back to 1400–50; see origin at salt1, -y1
Related formssalt·i·ly, adverbsalt·i·ness, nouno·ver·salt·y, adjectiveun·salt·y, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for salty

Contemporary Examples of salty

Historical Examples of salty

  • Every fluid of the body is salty, and every cell of the body is bathed in salt water.

    The Meaning of Evolution

    Samuel Christian Schmucker

  • The air was heavy, and the salty flavor of the flats might almost be tasted in it.

    Cy Whittaker's Place

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • This sea stirred not, while the air above it was frozen in salty silence.


    James Huneker

  • A strong, salty fragrance, wet and sweet, floated on the breeze.

  • The water that forms rain comes from the ocean, yet the rain is not salty.

    Common Science

    Carleton W. Washburne

British Dictionary definitions for salty


adjective saltier or saltiest

of, tasting of, or containing salt
(esp of humour) sharp; piquant
relating to life at sea
Derived Formssaltily, adverbsaltiness, noun
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 salty

mid-15c., "tasting of salt, impregnated with salt," from salt (n.) + -y (2). Meaning "racy" is from 1866, from salt in the sense of "that which gives life or pungency" (1570s, originally of words or wit). Meaning "racy, sexy" is from 1866. U.S. slang sense of "angry, irritated" is first attested 1938 (probably from similar use with regard to sailors, "tough, aggressive," attested by 1920), especially in phrase jump salty "to unexpectedly become enraged." Related: Saltily.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper