• salvo •
Pronunciation: sæl-vo • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A simultaneous discharge or release of multiple explosive objects, a sudden explosive outburst of multiple things. 2. (Capitalized, Australian slang) A member of the Salvation Army.
Notes: This word is usually associated with gunfire, but it expresses a sudden outburst of other things, too. It is a lexical orphan without any derivational family. It does present with two plurals: salvos or salvoes.
In Play: The most common sense of this word refers to gunfire: "The funeral of a Commander in Chief is highlighted with 21 salvos of gunfire." Other things may come in salvos, though: "The president's action launched a salvo of accusations about his motivations." The Australian sense caught me off guard: "The Christmas season brought out a smaller brigade of Salvos with their tinkling bells to the sidewalks."
Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Italian salva "salute, volley", inherited from Latin salve "hail, hello (good health to you)", the common Roman greeting. The shift in meaning evolved from the custom of issuing a salvo of shots greeting a VIP. Latin obtained its word from PIE root sol-wo- "whole, well-kept", also the source of Sanskrit sarva- "all, whole", Armenian olj "healthy", Greek olos "whole, complete", and Latin salvus "safe, sound, healthy". English safe was borrowed from French sauf "protected, cared for", inherited from Latin salvus. Save comes from French sauver "to keep safe, protect", inherited from Late Latin salvare "to make safe, protect". (Now's the perfect time for a salvo of thank-yous to Albert Skiles for suggesting today's intriguing Good Word.)