saltation

noun

sal·​ta·​tion sal-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce saltation (audio)
sȯl-
1
a
: the action or process of leaping or jumping
b
: dance
2
a
: the origin of a new species or a higher taxon in essentially a single evolutionary step that in some especially former theories is held to be due to a major mutation compare darwinism, neo-darwinism, punctuated equilibrium
b
: mutation
used especially of bacteria and fungi

Did you know?

Saltation comes from Latin, deriving ultimately from the verb salire, meaning "to leap." Etymologists think it meant "leap" or "jump" when it was first used in English, too, but documented evidence of early use in that sense is scarce. Instead, the oldest manuscripts containing the word (which date from the 1620s) show it used as a synonym of "dancing." The first recorded incidence of the "leaping" sense dates from 1646, when British physician and author Sir Thomas Browne used it in an entomological context: "Locusts ... being ordained for saltation, their hinder legs doe far exceed the other." The word made the leap to evolutionary theory in the late 19th century.

Examples of saltation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Omicron variants of concern are examples of this type of evolution, called saltation, Thomas Peacock and colleagues wrote in a preprint article posted in late November. Helen Branswell, STAT, 27 Dec. 2022 The temperature gradients in the granular ice layer, caused by solar radiation, also play an important role in the onset of the saltation process [movement of particles over an uneven surface]. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 31 May 2018

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

Word History

Etymology

Latin saltation-, saltatio, from saltare to leap, dance, frequentative of salire to leap — more at sally

First Known Use

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of saltation was in 1646

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Dictionary Entries Near saltation

Cite this Entry

“Saltation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/saltation. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Medical Definition

saltation

noun
sal·​ta·​tion sal-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce saltation (audio) sȯl- How to pronounce saltation (audio)
1
: the origin of a new species or a higher taxon in essentially a single evolutionary step that in some especially former theories is held to be due to macromutation
2
: mutation
used especially of bacteria and fungi
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