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Salting the Earth vs. Salt of the Earth

The phrase salt of the earth describes someone who is essential and pure of heart, a reference to the biblical Sermon on the Mount. To salt the earth usually means to render the ground useless, whether metaphorically or literally. This is part of a...

Sal, Salary, Salarium

The Latin word sal, or “salt,” inspired the word salarium, the pay soldiers received to buy salt. This in turn led to the English word salary. Well into the 17th century, salt remained a valuable commodity, but today if you’re not...

Salt-and-Pepper Cellar

The -cellar in saltcellar derives from an Old French word meaning “salt box,” and is etymologically related to the word salt itself. A caller from India says she grew up with the expression salt-and-pepper cellar, and it turns out...

Etymology of Salary

If you’re making a salary, be grateful that it’s paid out in dollars and not salt. In antiquity, salt was a valuable commodity, and the term salary comes from the Latin salarium, the portions of salt paid to Roman soldiers. This is part...

Droste effect

Droste effect  n.— «At my grocery store I could only find three examples: Land O’Lakes Butter, Morton Salt and Cracker Jacks. These packages each include a picture of the package itself and are often cited by writers discussing such pop...

Molly Mormon

Molly Mormon  n.— «When Thomas, owner of LatterDayBride, a bridal store based in Salt Lake City, was looking for wedding dresses in 1997, she couldn’t find anything fashionable with the coverage she wanted. “Anything that was modest...