Salt and Words

I love discovering the etymology of words. For me, it gives insight into a bit of history and how ideas were formed and evolved into things we take for granted today.

When we look at several words, we see that many of them “devolve” into having been influenced by salt.

  • Halcyon – From the Latin halcyon, From the Greek halkyon, variant of alkyon “kingfisher,” from hals “sea, salt” + kyon “conceiving,”
  • Pastrami – This is possibly is Modern Greek pastono meaning “I salt,” from classical Greek pastos “sprinkled with salt, salted.” The spelling in English with the suffix -mi probably from influence of salami.
  • Salary – From the old French salarie, from the Latin salarium “salary, stipend,” originally “soldier’s allowance for the purchase of salt,” from neutral of the adjective salarius “pertaining to salt,”.
  • Salami – from the Italian word salami, plural of salame “spiced pork sausage,” from the Roman Latin salamen, taken from salare “to salt,” which comes from the Latin word sal “salt”
  • Salad – From the Old French salade from the Roman Latin salata, translated “salted,” short for herba salata “salted vegetables” from feminie Past participle of salare “to salt,” from the Latin sal “salt”.
  • Sauce – From the Old French sauce or sausse from noun use of the Latin salsa, plural of salsus “salted,” from pp. of Old Latin sallere “to salt,” from sal “salt”.
  • Sausage – From Old North French saussiche from Roman Latin salsica “sausage,” from salsicus “seasoned with salt,” from the Latin salsus “salted”.


  • Halle, Germany
  • Hallein, Austria
  • Schwäbisch Hall, Germany
  • Hallstatt, Austria
  • Galicia, Spain
  • Galicia, Poland
  • Galicia, Ukraine
  • Halych, Poland
  • Salzburg, Austria


  • Gauls – Part of the Celtic tribes. The name Gauls comes from Latin Gallis, coming from the Greek hal. All of those places listed above? All had (or still have) saltworks that were initially run by the Gauls and other Celtic tribes.

This is far from comprehensive, but it certainly shows how much salt has influenced our world.

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