adjective sa·lient \ˈsā-lyənt, -lē-ənt\

Definition of salient

  1. 1 :  moving by leaps or springs :  jumping

  2. 2 :  jetting upward a salient fountain

  3. 3a :  projecting beyond a line, surface, or levelb :  standing out conspicuously :  prominent; especially :  of notable significance similar to … Prohibition, but there are a couple of salient differences — Tony Gibbs



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Examples of salient in a Sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

Recent Examples of salient from the Web

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.

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).

Origin and Etymology of salient

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

Synonym Discussion of 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



noun sa·lient \ˈsā-lyənt, -lē-ənt\

Definition of salient

  1. :  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

Examples of salient in a Sentence

  1. 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

Origin and Etymology of salient

see 1salient

Other Military Terms

SALIENT Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of salient for English Language Learners

  • : very important or noticeable

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lacking social experience or grace

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