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 For Liza Mickens, her 23-year-old great-great granddaughter, the statue's geographical location is especially salient. Maggie Mcgrath, Forbes, "Why America’s First Black Female Bank Founder Is Still Owed A Great Debt," 20 Mar. 2021 These issues are especially salient in theater, since videos of A.S.L. productions protect only the footage itself, not the words being signed. New York Times, "American Sign Language Finds Its Spotlight," 25 Mar. 2021 In one particularly salient moment, Vaid-Menon touched upon the influence western colonization had on Indian culture’s attitudes toward queerness. Chris Murphy, Vulture, "Lilly Singh Discussing Queerness With Alok Vaid-Menon Won Late Night This Week," 5 Feb. 2021 Bailey tickets for 2021 start at less than $20 per match, and that's an especially salient feature this offseason as forthcoming MLS expansion clubs have introduced pricey offerings in aging NFL stadiums and personal seat licences. Pat Brennan, The Enquirer, "FC Cincinnati: Re-imagined Bailey is a West End Stadium highlight," 14 Mar. 2021 In salient ways, the case of Officer Mohamed Noor is similar to Chauvin’s. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "The George Floyd Murder Trial: A Charging Nightmare," 7 Mar. 2021 WandaVision actor Randall Park shared that seemingly obvious yet salient piece of advice on Conan on Thursday. Chris Murphy, Vulture, "Minari’s Alan Kim and His Purple Belt Won Late Night This Week," 6 Mar. 2021 This became especially salient because the initial pick to play Raya, Filipino-Canadian actor Cassie Steele, was replaced by Kelly Marie Tran in August 2020. Kat Moon, Time, "Raya and the Last Dragon," 6 Mar. 2021 But the most salient one in the post-Trump era is the democratic/authoritarian split on the right. Washington Post, "breaking up the Democratic and Republican parties," 1 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Veteran admissions guy Jon Reider makes the salient point that all the application pressure has obscured the fact that great higher education exists everywhere in America. Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal’ shows how the rich got conned," 11 Mar. 2021 The arguments were profound, salient and heartbreaking. Chronicle Digital Team, San Francisco Chronicle, "Hundreds of people wrote to us about school reopening in the Bay Area. Here are their stories," 11 Mar. 2021 Dealing with Covid-19 is shining a light on certain salient aspects and key principles. World Economic Forum, Forbes, "Post-Pandemic Leadership: How Managing A Business Is Changing In Times Of Covid-19," 1 Mar. 2021 The futurist painting manifesto applied to visual art the salient points of another, even more entertaining manifesto by the poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876-1944). Washington Post, "This charming painting emerged from a disturbing ideology," 24 Feb. 2021 Classification of digital content, for various age groups, is one of the salient features of the new guidelines. Sweta Kaushal, Forbes, "Indian Government Introduces New Rules For OTT: What It Means For Filmmakers," 26 Feb. 2021 DeLeon, 18, and her fellow cadets are the first in the nation to conduct such interviews, pick out the salient points from the veterans’ comments and create inscriptions on the banners. Rick Menning,, "Tribute banners display South Florida veterans’ stories for all to see," 26 Feb. 2021 Kudla said Left made many salient points during his report. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "GameStop stock goes wild on Wall Street and we can't stop watching," 22 Jan. 2021 Gladwell’s piece unfolds as a riveting series of flashbacks to 1918, offering a salient look at what can happen when a catastrophic virus sweeps across the globe. Erin Overbey, The New Yorker, "New Yorker Classics That Resonated in 2020," 29 Dec. 2020

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

10 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Salient.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for salient



English Language Learners Definition of salient

formal : very important or noticeable

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