Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


Three trips were made by the old salt to the cook's gallery.

But the old salt left in charge of the schooner was equal to the occasion.

The old salt chuckled, and had his eye to the piece immediately.

The old salt removed his tarpaulin, scratched his bald head, and said only two.

He rang the bells correctly, and handled the wheel like an old salt.

“Young gentlemen should not be inquisitive,” laughed the old salt.

"And the officers too," replied the old salt, hitching up his trousers.

How far is this cave of yours, you are taking us to, old salt horse?

“Why, it were well-nigh enough to make an old salt cry,” saith Ned.

It was a bad day for a landsman,—a bad day even for an old salt.


Old English sealt "salt" (n.; also as an adjective, "salty, briny"), from Proto-Germanic *saltom (cf. Old Saxon, Old Norse, Old Frisian, Gothic salt, Dutch zout, German Salz), from PIE *sal- "salt" (cf. Greek hals "salt, sea," Latin sal, Old Church Slavonic soli, Old Irish salann, Welsh halen "salt").

Modern chemistry sense is from 1790. Meaning "experienced sailor" is first attested 1840, in reference to the salinity of the sea. Salt was long regarded as having power to repel spiritual and magical evil. Many metaphoric uses reflect that this was once a rare and important resource, e.g. worth one's salt (1830), salt of the earth (Old English, after Matt. v:13). Belief that spilling salt brings bad luck is attested from 16c. To be above (or below) the salt (1590s) refers to customs of seating at a long table according to rank or honor, and placing a large salt-cellar in the middle of the dining table.

Salt-lick first recorded 1751; salt-marsh is Old English sealtne mersc; salt-shaker is from 1882. Salt-and-pepper "of dark and light color" first recorded 1915. To take something with a grain of salt is from 1640s, from Modern Latin cum grano salis.


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.