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sa·​lient ˈsā-lyənt How to pronounce salient (audio)
: moving by leaps or springs : jumping
: jetting upward
a salient fountain
: projecting beyond a line, surface, or level
: standing out conspicuously : prominent
especially : of notable significance
similar to … Prohibition, but there are a couple of salient differences Tony Gibbs
saliently adverb


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sa·​lient ˈsā-lyənt How to pronounce salient (audio)
: 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

Did you know?

Salient first popped up in English as a word referring to the act of leaping. It is from the Latin verb salire, which means "to leap." Today, salient is usually used to describe things that "leap out," such as the salient features of a painting or the salient points in an argument.

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

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
The election on Tuesday could reveal just how salient the issue of the war is for Democratic voters — particularly in swing areas of the country. Karissa Waddick, USA TODAY, 22 Apr. 2024 Perhaps one of the more salient features by which Sunday may be known was the persistence of the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin. Martin Weil, Washington Post, 1 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for salient 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'salient.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adjective and Noun

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

First Known Use


1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1828, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of salient was in 1646


Dictionary Entries Near salient

Cite this Entry

“Salient.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: sticking outward
a salient angle
: very important or noticeable
saliently adverb
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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