Word of the Day : December 5, 2011


adjective SAIL-yunt


1 : jutting forward beyond a line

2 : standing out conspicuously : prominent; especially : of notable significance


The speech was filled with so much twisted rhetoric that it was hard to identify any salient points.

"My point is that it might be a mistake to suppose that the director of '10,000 B.C.' -- to mention only the most salient example -- should be taken as a reliable guide to history." -- From a review by A.O.Scott in The New York Times, October 28, 2011

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).

Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "elucidate," our Word of the Day from November 20? The answer is ...


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