salt·​pe·​ter | \ ˈsȯlt-ˈpē-tər How to pronounce saltpeter (audio) \

Definition of saltpeter

Examples of saltpeter in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The layers of history at this site in the Fort Payne area include Cherokee inscriptions, Civil War saltpeter mining and use as a tourist attraction prior to 1979. al, 22 June 2022 The medieval gunpowder recipes were generally lower in saltpeter and higher in sulfur than modern ones. Eric Niiler, Wired, 29 Sep. 2021 The sulfur and carbon (typically in the form of charcoal) act as fuels whereas the saltpeter provides a rush of oxygen to ignite the extremely fast chemical reaction known as explosive combustion. The New York Times, Arkansas Online, 10 Oct. 2021 During the earlier part of the 14th century, gunpowder was the domain of alchemists who sourced their saltpeter and sulfur from traders arriving from China and India. Eric Niiler, Wired, 29 Sep. 2021 For ages, the main ingredients of gunpowder have consisted of sulfur, carbon and potassium nitrate, commonly known as saltpeter. The New York Times, Arkansas Online, 10 Oct. 2021 Rogers asked his colleague Dawn Riegner, a professor of chemistry, to fact-check one recipe that included an unusual ratio of sulfur, saltpeter, and charcoal. Eric Niiler, Wired, 29 Sep. 2021 Stumps of larger vines can be killed by drilling holes and filling with molasses or saltpeter (potassium nitrate). Howard Garrett, Dallas News, 16 Aug. 2021 The saltpeter kettles, repurposed as garden torches, were filled with fuel and lit, and their light flickered on an array of classical statuary, columns, urns and the like. Washington Post, 7 July 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of saltpeter

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for saltpeter

Middle English salt petre, alteration of salpetre, from Medieval Latin sal petrae, literally, salt of the rock

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The first known use of saltpeter was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near saltpeter

salt pan


saltpeter paper

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Statistics for saltpeter

Last Updated

11 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Saltpeter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for saltpeter


variants: or chiefly British saltpetre \ ˈsȯlt-​ˈpēt-​ər How to pronounce saltpeter (audio) \

Medical Definition of saltpeter

More from Merriam-Webster on saltpeter Encyclopedia article about saltpeter


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