sal·​ta·​tion | \ sal-ˈtā-shən, sȯl-\

Definition of saltation

1a : the action or process of leaping or jumping
b : dance
2a : 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

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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 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, "Pluto has 'Earth-like characteristics,' study says," 31 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'saltation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of saltation

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for saltation

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

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The first known use of saltation was in 1646

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sal·​ta·​tion | \ sal-ˈtā-shən, sȯl- \

Medical Definition of saltation

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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