salient

adjective
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

salient

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from salient

Adjective

saliently adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for salient

Adjective

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?

Adjective

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

The victory might be especially salient in Warren County, Ohio, which is the same place where trans 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn took her own life in December 2014; a stretch of interstate was later dedicated to her. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "A Trans Teen's Name Change Could Be Allowed After an Ohio Judge's Initial Ruling Was Overturned," 12 Mar. 2019 The results, published in Monday’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show a fluctuating line whose peaks and troughs correspond to salient events in Roman history. New York Times, "An Ice Core Reveals the Economic Health of the Roman Empire," 14 May 2018 The very fact that Trump’s political coalition is dominated by white evangelical Christians who otherwise want to ban pornography makes the Clifford story politically salient. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Is “Porn Star” the Best Way to Describe Stormy Daniels?," 27 Mar. 2018 Now the cost of keeping that base may be a more salient concern. Laura Forman, WSJ, "Facebook Erases History at a Cost," 27 Feb. 2019 In addition, life expectancy at 65 has increased from about 14 years to 20 years so the value of benefits at older ages has become more salient. Alicia H. Munnell, WSJ, "Four Simple Changes to Bring Social Security Into the 21st Century," 16 Dec. 2018 But one with a true interest in business ethics would note the more salient fact that the school never formally admitted wrongdoing—something that few companies caught in regulators’ crosshairs do. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "M.B.A.s, Do As I Say, Not as I Do," 10 Jan. 2019 As with any Faustian bargain, the short-term benefits of submitting are more salient than the long-term sacrifice. Frank Rose, WSJ, "‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’ Review: The New Big Brother," 14 Jan. 2019 Fans watching have noted that the comments are particularly salient in the entertainment industry, but especially within the world of K-pop, which has been criticized for its unfair standards for its all-female acts. Vogue, "Janet Jackson, With the Support of BTS, Calls Out Sexism and Abuse in Entertainment at the Mnet Asian Music Awards," 14 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Health care dominates the race between Messrs. MacArthur and Kim, but the state’s high property taxes make tax policy salient too. Richard Rubin, WSJ, "Some GOP Lawmakers Reckon With Their Tax Vote Record," 1 Nov. 2018 The challenge for Democrats has been keeping health care salient. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "How Democrats Plan to Turn Kennedy’s Retirement Into a Political Win," 3 July 2018 The walls of the Hall of Memory are inscribed with the names of 54,896 British and Commonwealth soldiers killed in the Ypres salient before 16 August 1917. Smithsonian, "World War I Cemeteries & Memorials Around the World," 26 May 2017 The walls of the Hall of Memory are inscribed with the names of 54,896 British and Commonwealth soldiers killed in the Ypres salient before 16 August 1917. Smithsonian, "World War I Cemeteries & Memorials Around the World," 26 May 2017

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.

See More

First Known Use of salient

Adjective

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about salient

Listen to Our Podcast about salient

Statistics for salient

Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for salient

The first known use of salient was in 1646

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for salient

salient

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of salient

formal : very important or noticeable

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on salient

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for salient

Spanish Central: Translation of salient

Nglish: Translation of salient for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of salient for Arabic Speakers

Comments on salient

What made you want to look up salient? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!