Printable Version
Pronunciation: say-lee-ênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun

Meaning: 1. Protruding, sticking out, jutting or leaping out at you. 2. Standing out from the rest, most prominent, strikingly noticeable among others. 3. Jumping, leaping, dancing about. saltant; as a salient deer on a coat of arms.

Notes: Today's Good Word is required of any healthy, well-balanced vocabulary. It comes with an adverb, saliently, and a noun, salience. Anything that juts out, projects outward or is highly prominent is a salient, as to live on a salient along the coast or a vertical cliff with a salient (prominence) near the top.

In Play: Although the sense of "jumping" is seldom associated with today's word any more, it is still available: "Laurel could not catch the exceptionally salient frog she spotted by the pond." Today this word is most often used in referring to some sort of prominence, literal or figurative: "The salient point of Malcolm's defense was that his secretary had thrown her lipstick at him in such a manner that it hit his collar, leaving the mark that his wife found so suspicious."

Word History: Today's Good Word is Latin salien(t)s "leaping", the present participle of salire "to leap, spring, jump". This same word went on to form a host of words borrowed by English, including sail, sally (forth), assail, and somersault. The last was borrowed directly from French sombresault from an earlier sobresault, made up of sobre "above" + sau(l)t "leap", again from Latin salire. Since a chef will throw food about as he sautés it, we should not be surprised that sauté shares the same origin, i.e. jumping food. (It is time for a salient show of gratitude to Mark Bailey for again springing into action and suggesting yet another excellent Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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