Words at Play : Words With Remarkable Origins, Vol. 2

#2: Salary

Receiving a salary may seem sweet, but the word originates with a different flavor.

In ancient times, because salt wasn't always easy to come by (and because it was a leading way to improve flavor even back then), Roman soldiers were given a sum of money – a salarium – with which to purchase salt.

Over time, salarium (from the Latin salarius, 'of salt') came to refer simply to money paid the soldiers, and then to monies paid to any official of the Roman Empire, and eventually to wages in general.

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