• synonyms


[sav, sahv]
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  1. a medicinal ointment for healing or relieving wounds and sores.
  2. anything that soothes, mollifies, or relieves.
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verb (used with object), salved, salv·ing.
  1. to soothe with or as if with salve; assuage: to salve one's conscience.
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Origin of salve1

before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English sealf; cognate with German Salbe salve, Sanskrit sarpis melted butter; (v.) Middle English salven, Old English sealfian


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verb (used with or without object), salved, salv·ing.
  1. to save from loss or destruction; to salvage.
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Origin of salve2

First recorded in 1700–10; back formation from salvage


[sal-vee; Latin sahl-wey]
  1. hail!
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Origin of salve3

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin salvē! literally, be in good health!; cf. salute
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

balm, lotion, pacify, mollify, assuage, unburden, alleviate, medication, help, unction, liniment, unguent, remedy, cure, aid, dressing, medicine, lubricant, cream, cerate

Examples from the Web for salve

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He spoke with the sureness of a man of wealth, confident that money will salve any wound.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • And this time the thing he wanted was to get the dervish to rub some of the salve on his other eye.

    Tom Sawyer Abroad

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • And he hollered the first thing that "he wanted some of Hall's salve."

    Samantha Among the Brethren, Part 2.

    Josiah Allen's Wife (Marietta Holley)

  • His wounded pride demanded a salve to be procured at any cost.

    The Snare

    Rafael Sabatini

  • But Gage was endeavoring to salve his smart and conceal his own shame.

British Dictionary definitions for salve


  1. an ointment for wounds, sores, etc
  2. anything that heals or soothes
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verb (tr)
  1. to apply salve to (a wound, sore, etc)
  2. to soothe, comfort, or appease
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Word Origin

Old English sealf; related to Old High German salba, Greek elpos oil, Sanskrit sarpis lard


  1. a less common word for salvage
  2. an archaic word for save 1 (def. 3)
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Word Origin

C18: from salvage
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 salve


Old English sealf "healing ointment," from West Germanic *salbo- "oily substance" (cf. Old Saxon salba, Middle Dutch salve, Dutch zalf, Old High German salba, German salbe "ointment"), from PIE *solpa-, from root *selp- "fat, butter" (cf. Greek elpos "fat, oil," Sanskrit sarpis "melted butter"). The figurative sense of "something to soothe wounded pride, etc." is from 1736.

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Old English sealfian "anoint (a wound) with salve," from Proto-Germanic *salbojanan (cf. Dutch zalven, German salben, Gothic salbon "to anoint"), from the root of salve (n.). Figurative use from c.1200. Related: Salved; salving.

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"to save from loss at sea," 1706, back-formation from salvage (n.) or salvable. Related: Salved; salving.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

salve in Medicine


(săv, säv)
  1. An analgesic or medicinal ointment.
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Related formssalve v.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.