sa·​lient | \ ˈsā-lyənt How to pronounce salient (audio) , -lē-ənt \

Definition of salient

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : moving by leaps or springs : jumping
2 : jetting upward a salient fountain
3a : projecting beyond a line, surface, or level
b : standing out conspicuously : prominent especially : of notable significance similar to … Prohibition, but there are a couple of salient differences — Tony Gibbs


sa·​lient | \ ˈsā-lyənt How to pronounce salient (audio) , -lē-ənt \

Definition of salient (Entry 2 of 2)

: something (such as a promontory) that projects outward or upward from its surroundings especially : an outwardly projecting part of a fortification, trench system, or line of defense

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Other Words from salient


saliently adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for salient


noticeable, remarkable, prominent, outstanding, conspicuous, salient, striking mean attracting notice or attention. noticeable applies to something unlikely to escape observation. a piano recital with no noticeable errors remarkable applies to something so extraordinary or exceptional as to invite comment. a film of remarkable intelligence and wit prominent applies to something commanding notice by standing out from its surroundings or background. a doctor who occupies a prominent position in the town outstanding applies to something that rises above and excels others of the same kind. honored for her outstanding contributions to science conspicuous applies to something that is obvious and unavoidable to the sight or mind. conspicuous bureaucratic waste salient applies to something of significance that merits the attention given it. the salient points of the speech striking applies to something that impresses itself powerfully and deeply upon the observer's mind or vision. the region's striking poverty

Did You Know?


Salient first popped up in English in the mid-17th century, and in its earliest English uses meant "moving by leaps or springs" (as in "a salient cheetah") or "spouting forth" (as in "a salient fountain"). Those senses aren't too much of a jump from the word's parent, the Latin verb salire, which means "to leap." Salire has leaped into many English words; it's also an ancestor of somersault and sally, as well as Salientia, the name for an order of amphibians that includes frogs, toads, and other notable jumpers. Today, salient is usually used to describe things that are physically prominent (such as a salient nose) or that stand out figuratively (such as the salient features of a painting).

Examples of salient in a Sentence

Adjective Then there were those who doubted the need for radio in the first place, since the telegraph was already ubiquitous. Marconi's salient achievement was to realize that radio waves could be transmitted across vast distances, an incalculable step forward in mass communications. — Kevin Baker, New York Times Book Review, 5 Nov. 2006 A 2002 study conducted at the University of Illinois by Diener and Seligman found that the most salient characteristics shared by the 10% of students with the highest levels of happiness and the fewest signs of depression were their strong ties to friends and family and commitment to spending time with them. — Claudia Wallis, Time, 17 Jan. 2005 The difference between the people Liebling chose to write about and today's celebrity culture is the difference between the "profile" and the "portrait." A profile is an outline, a concise rendering of the most salient facts, though the facts may be inessential and even inaccurate in their generality. … A portrait, on the other hand, is a revelation, an exposure. — Lee Siegel, Harper's, December 2004 Kermeen cites "a book published in 1882" that says of ghosts at the Myrtles: "The lights are never extinguished at the plantation. When the lights are all out, something always happens." Kermeen does not further identify this book (another source says it was published "in 1900"), but the salient point here is that it apparently did not mention the Chloe tale. That suggests it was probably unknown until relatively recently. — Joe Nickell, Skeptical Inquirer, September/October 2003 Noun The attempts of the Teutonic armies to envelop and destroy some portion of the Russian forces involved the creation of several dangerous salients in the Russian line, followed by an endeavor to close the neck of each salient by attacks from both sides and so to isolate the armies forming its apex. — Douglas Wilson Johnson, Topography and Strategy in the War, 1917
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective All of this is particularly salient as Mr. Austin prepares to present the Pentagon’s budget request to Congress. Dustin Walker, WSJ, 28 May 2021 But the most salient difference between Proctorio and its peers may be Olsen. Nora Caplan-bricker, The New Yorker, 27 May 2021 Their divorce touches on several of our most salient cultural and political issues, and puts the focus on some of our most rapidly-changing social norms. Jill Filipovic, CNN, 18 May 2021 The most salient argument from this whitepaper is that there is no one single answer—no one-size-fits-all approach for companies in the post-pandemic workplace. William Arruda, Forbes, 18 May 2021 The city’s Orthodox Jewish community has long been considered a politically salient voting bloc and has been courted by both Mr. Adams and Mr. Yang, who has been endorsed by several ultra-Orthodox leaders. New York Times, 12 May 2021 The most salient versions of property destruction can be tied to social change that threatens the status quo of the powerful. Will Jeakle, Forbes, 17 Apr. 2021 Perhaps the most salient complaint is about the exchange’s fees, which are among the highest in the industry, according to data from CoinTracker. Brandon Kochkodin, Fortune, 15 Apr. 2021 The most salient and immediate signal to me has been the plunge in short-term Treasury bill rates since the beginning of the year. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 20 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun One salient question for a writer of an airplane suspense novel: What does the crew do when a person dies on board? Ellen Gamerman, WSJ, 12 May 2021 The study also highlighted salient Igbo cultural and community nuances. Nnamdi Madichie, Quartz, 29 Apr. 2021 The governor has depicted the recall as an attack by former President Donald Trump's supporters on California's progressive values, an argument that is proving salient among Democrats. Fox News, 1 May 2021 Speaking of Miss Moore, Porsha is still upset at Kenya for not sharing that Brooklyn was coming on the trip, but Kandi makes the salient yet depressing point that Kenya doesn’t really have anyone in her life that can watch Brooklyn. Chris Murphy, Vulture, 1 Feb. 2021 In the process, Metz manages to touch on many of the salient controversies swirling around AI without getting bogged down by taking sides. Washington Post, 19 Mar. 2021 The issue has grown more salient with Johnson & Johnson's authorization and imminent availability. Sasha Pezenik, ABC News, 3 Mar. 2021 The Very Online Lil Nas X then continued to make the salient point that those enraged by his art should probably channel their anger towards something more deserving, like, say the country's gun crisis? Natalie Morin,, 30 Mar. 2021 But as salient as those images might have been, the statehood push remains a steep uphill climb—one made steeper by the limits the coronavirus pandemic has imposed on traditional organizing and advocacy work. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, 27 Jan. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'salient.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of salient


1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1828, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for salient

Adjective and Noun

Latin salient-, saliens, present participle of salire to leap — more at sally

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Time Traveler for salient

Time Traveler

The first known use of salient was in 1646

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Last Updated

9 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Salient.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for salient



English Language Learners Definition of salient

formal : very important or noticeable


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