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 Old 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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