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[Middle English salpetre, from Old French, from Medieval Latin sālpetrae : Latin sāl, salt; see sal- in Indo-European roots + Latin petrae, genitive of petra, rock (from Greek petrā; see per- in Indo-European roots).]


or salt•pe•tre

(ˌsɔltˈpi tər)

naturally occurring potassium nitrate, used in making fireworks, gunpowder, etc.; niter.
[1275–1325; < Medieval Latin salpetra, literally, salt of rock]


ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.saltpeter - (KNO3) used especially as a fertilizer and explosive
fertiliser, fertilizer, plant food - any substance such as manure or a mixture of nitrates used to make soil more fertile
nitrate - any compound containing the nitrate group (such as a salt or ester of nitric acid)
References in classic literature ?
Whether it was that his blood was bad, or there had been a cut, he could not say; but he asked the men about it, and learned that it was a regular thing--it was the saltpeter.
Over the whole field, previously so gaily beautiful with the glitter of bayonets and cloudlets of smoke in the morning sun, there now spread a mist of damp and smoke and a strange acid smell of saltpeter and blood.
Gunpowder was not invented by any one; it was the lineal successor of the Greek fire, which, like itself, was composed of sulfur and saltpeter.
Neither metals, saltpeter, nor coal can fail in the depths of the moon, and we need only go 8,000 leagues in order to fall upon the terrestrial globe by virtue of the mere laws of weight.
YaraBela nitrogen fertilizer Sulfan 24 or equivalent in the amount of 96 tonsCalcium ammonium saltpeter.
Unmarried male faculty and unmarried male students should be required to take supervised doses of saltpeter every morning just before morning chapel.
But saltpeter came from India and sulfur from Sicily.
Chinese alchemists, searching for the secrets of eternal life--not an entirely dissimilar goal of some proponents of ASI research (12)--discovered the mixture of saltpeter, carbon, and sulfur in the 9th century.
The study area has a hyper-arid climate with no precipitation, a mean annual temperature of 19[degrees]C with minor differences between summer and winter, and a substrate dominated by a saltpeter matrix and completely devoid of vegetation (Luebert and Pliscoff 2006).
The first and oldest is black powder: a mixture of charcoal, sulphur and saltpeter.
Snow and saltpeter (potassium nitrate, a major ingredient in gunpowder) were poured over containers of syrup to freeze the syrup more easily.