The white, grainy stuff that makes food taste more flavorful is salt. You might sprinkle salt on your hot buttered popcorn to make it even more delicious.

Although many people eat too much salt, it's actually necessary for life, in both plants and animals. The scientific name for salt is sodium chloride, and it's been harvested from seawater and salt mines for most of human history. When you use salt as a verb, it means "shake salt onto." If someone's known as an old salt, it means they're an experienced sailor — and if they're the salt of the earth, they're honest and reliable.

Definitions of salt
  1. noun
    white crystalline form of especially sodium chloride used to season and preserve food
    synonyms: common salt, table salt
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    type of:
    flavorer, flavoring, flavourer, flavouring, seasoner, seasoning
    something added to food primarily for the savor it imparts
  2. noun
    a compound formed by replacing hydrogen in an acid by a metal (or a radical that acts like a metal)
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    acetate, ethanoate
    a salt or ester of acetic acid
    a salt or ester of citric acid
    a salt or ester of arsenic acid
    any salt of chloric acid
    dibasic salt
    a salt derived by replacing two hydrogen atoms per molecule
    any salt or ester of hypochlorous acid
    a salt or ester of pyrophosphoric acid
    a salt of sulphonic acid
    a salt or ester of lactic acid
    a salt of perchloric acid
    a mixture of soluble salts found in arid soils and some bodies of water; detrimental to agriculture
    ammonium chloride, sal ammoniac
    a white salt used in dry cells
    any salt or ester of benzoic acid
    a salt or ester of boric acid
    a salt of boric and silicic acids
    calcium lactate
    a white crystalline salt made by the action of lactic acid on calcium carbonate; used in foods (as a baking powder) and given medically as a source of calcium
    calcium octadecanoate, calcium stearate
    an insoluble calcium salt of stearic acid and palmitic acid; it is formed when soap is mixed with water that contains calcium ions and is the scum produced in regions of hard water
    a salt (or ester) of carbamic acid
    a salt or ester of carbonic acid (containing the anion CO3)
    a salt or ester of fulminic acid
    any salt or ester of chromic acid
    an extremely poisonous salt of hydrocyanic acid
    potassium bromide
    a white crystalline salt (KBr) used as a sedative and in photography
    potassium chlorate
    a white salt (KClO3) used in matches, fireworks, and explosives; also used as a disinfectant and bleaching agent
    potassium dichromate
    an orange-red salt used in making dyes and in photography
    salt of ferricyanic acid obtained by oxidation of a ferrocyanide
    salt of ferrocyanic acid usually obtained by a reaction of a cyanide with iron sulphate
    a salt of fluoroboric acid
    salt of fluosilicic acid
    a salt or ester of glutamic acid
    a salt of any halogen acid
    a salt or ester of isocyanic acid
    calcium chloride
    a deliquescent salt; used in de-icing and as a drying agent
    calcium sulfate, calcium sulphate
    a white salt (CaSO4)
    a salt of manganic acid containing manganese as its anion
    chrome alum
    a violet-colored salt used in hide tanning and as a mordant in dyeing
    a salt or ester of tartaric acid
    oxalacetate, oxaloacetate
    a salt or ester of oxalacetic acid
    a salt or ester of oxalic acid
    a dark purple salt of permanganic acid; in water solution it is used as a disinfectant and antiseptic
    inorganic phosphate, orthophosphate, phosphate
    a salt of phosphoric acid
    a salt or ester of polyphosphoric acid
    acrylate, propenoate
    a salt or ester of propenoic acid
    a salt of salicylic acid (included in several commonly used drugs)
    double salt
    a solution of two simple salts that forms a single substance on crystallization
    bile salt
    a salt of bile acid and a base; functions as an emulsifier of lipids and fatty acids
    Glauber's salt, Glauber's salts
    (Na2SO4.10H2O) a colorless salt used as a cathartic
    cream of tartar, potassium bitartrate, potassium hydrogen tartrate, tartar
    a salt used especially in baking powder
    sodium chlorate
    a colorless salt (NaClO3) used as a weed killer and an antiseptic
    bichromate, dichromate
    a salt of the hypothetical dichromic acid
    sodium bichromate, sodium dichromate
    a red-orange salt used as a mordant
    microcosmic salt
    a white salt present in urine and used to test for metal oxides
    a salt or ester derived from silicic acid
    sal soda, soda, soda ash, sodium carbonate, washing soda
    a sodium salt of carbonic acid; used in making soap powders and glass and paper
    sodium carboxymethyl cellulose
    a gummy substance that is a sodium salt of carboxymethyl cellulose; used as a thickening or emulsifying agent
    sodium fluoride
    a colorless crystalline salt of sodium (NaF) used in fluoridation of water and to prevent tooth decay
    sulfate, sulphate
    a salt or ester of sulphuric acid
    a salt of thiocyanic acid; formed when alkaline cyanides are fused with sulfur
    a salt of tungstic acid
    a salt of uric acid
    a salt or ester of vanadic acid; an anion containing pentavalent vanadium
    a salt or ester of xanthic acid
    Bayer, Empirin, St. Joseph, acetylsalicylic acid, aspirin
    the acetylated derivative of salicylic acid; used as an analgesic anti-inflammatory drug (trade names Bayer, Empirin, and St. Joseph) usually taken in tablet form; used as an antipyretic; slows clotting of the blood by poisoning platelets
    any of three liquid acetates that are formed when acetic acid and glycerin are heated together
    alum, potash alum, potassium alum
    a white crystalline double sulfate of aluminum: the potassium double sulfate of aluminum
    alum, ammonia alum, ammonium alum
    a white crystalline double sulfate of aluminum: the ammonium double sulfate of aluminum
    a common white or colorless mineral (hydrated calcium sulphate) used to make cements and plasters (especially plaster of Paris)
    sulfonate of alkyl benzene
    ammonium carbamate
    a salt of carbamic acid that is used as a nitrogen fertilizer
    ammonium carbonate
    a carbonate of ammonium; used in the manufacture of smelling salts and baking powder and ammonium compounds
    barium sulfate, barium sulphate, blanc fixe
    a white insoluble radiopaque powder used as a pigment
    benzoate of soda, sodium benzoate
    a white crystalline salt used as a food preservative and antiseptic
    bicarbonate, hydrogen carbonate
    a salt of carbonic acid (containing the anion HCO3) in which one hydrogen atom has been replaced; an acid carbonate
    any of the salts of hydrobromic acid; formerly used as a sedative but now generally replaced by safer drugs
    calcium hypochlorite
    any hypochlorite of calcium; used as a bleaching agent
    calcium phosphate
    a phosphate of calcium; a main constituent of animal bones
    fulminate of mercury, fulminating mercury, mercury fulminate
    a fulminate that when dry explodes violently if struck or heated; used in detonators and blasting caps and percussion caps
    lead chromate
    a poisonous chromate of lead used as a pigment in paint
    copper sulfate, copper sulphate, cupric sulfate, cupric sulphate
    a copper salt made by the action of sulfuric acid on copper oxide
    sodium cyanide
    a white poisonous salt (NaCN) used in electroplating
    potassium carbonate
    a white salt (K2CO3) that is basic in solution; used to make glass and cleansing agents
    potassium cyanide
    a poisonous salt (KCN) used in electroplating and in photography
    a salt of hydrofluoric acid
    a salt or ester of hydriodic acid
    calcium carbonate
    a salt found in nature as chalk or calcite or aragonite or limestone
    Eskalith, Lithane, Lithonate, lithium carbonate
    a white powder (LiCO3) used in manufacturing glass and ceramics and as a drug; the drug (trade names Lithane or Lithonate or Eskalith) is used to treat some forms of depression and manic episodes of manic-depressive disorder
    magnesium carbonate
    a very white crystalline salt that occurs naturally as magnesite or as dolomite
    magnesium sulfate
    a salt of magnesium
    birch oil, methyl salicylate, sweet-birch oil
    a liquid ester with a strong odor of wintergreen; applied externally for minor muscle and joint pain
    antimony potassium tartrate, tartar emetic
    a poisonous colorless salt used as a mordant and in medicine
    an acid tartrate; a hydrogen tartrate
    cellulose xanthate, viscose
    a cellulose ester obtained by treating cellulose with caustic soda
    lead acetate, sugar of lead
    a poisonous white solid (Pb[CH3CO]2) used in dyeing cotton and in making enamels and varnishes
    plaster, plaster of Paris
    any of several gypsum cements; a white powder (a form of calcium sulphate) that forms a paste when mixed with water and hardens into a solid; used in making molds and sculptures and casts for broken limbs
    potassium ferrocyanide, yellow prussiate of potash
    a cyanide compound that is prepared by the reaction of potassium cyanide with ferrous salts; commonly used by gardeners
    permanganate of potash, potassium permanganate
    a poisonous salt that forms dark purple crystals and is purple-red when dissolved in water; used as an oxidizing and bleaching agent and as a disinfectant and antiseptic
    Rochelle salt, Rochelle salts, potassium sodium tartrate
    a double salt used in Seidlitz powder; acts as a cathartic
    phenyl salicylate, salol
    a white powder with a pleasant taste and odor; used to absorb light in sun tan lotions or as a preservative or an antiseptic or a coating for pills in which the medicine is intended for enteric release
    Paris green
    a toxic double salt of copper arsenate and copper acetate
    any salt of hydrochloric acid (containing the chloride ion)
    sodium hypochlorite
    an unstable salt (NaOCl) used as a bleaching agent and disinfectant
    SLS, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium lauryl sulphate
    a caustic detergent useful for removing grease; although commonly included in personal care items (shampoos and toothpastes etc.) it can irritate skin and should not be swallowed
    sodium sulfate, sodium sulphate
    a solid white bitter salt used in manufacturing glass and paper and dyes and pharmaceuticals
    sodium orthophosphate, sodium phosphate
    phosphate of sodium; used as a laxative to cleanse the bowels
    any halide containing four halogen atoms in its molecules
    uranyl oxalate
    a salt obtained by the reaction of uranium salts with oxalic acid
    chalkstone, tophus
    a deposit of urates around a joint or in the external ear; diagnostic of advanced or chronic gout
    white vitriol, zinc sulfate, zinc sulphate, zinc vitriol
    a colorless water-soluble powder; used as a mordant or to preserve wood or for the electrodeposition of zinc
    type of:
    chemical compound, compound
    (chemistry) a substance formed by chemical union of two or more elements or ingredients in definite proportion by weight
  3. noun
    the taste experience when common salt is taken into the mouth
    synonyms: salinity, saltiness
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    type of:
    gustatory perception, gustatory sensation, taste, taste perception, taste sensation
    the sensation that results when taste buds in the tongue and throat convey information about the chemical composition of a soluble stimulus
  4. verb
    add salt to
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    type of:
    flavor, flavour, season
    lend flavor to
  5. verb
    preserve with salt
    “people used to salt meats on ships”
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    type of:
    keep, preserve
    prevent (food) from rotting
  6. verb
    sprinkle as if with salt
    “the rebels had salted the fields with mines and traps”
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    type of:
    splash, splosh, sprinkle
    cause (a liquid) to spatter about, especially with force
  7. verb
    add zest or liveliness to
    “She salts her lectures with jokes”
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    type of:
    spice, spice up
    make more interesting or flavorful
  8. adjective
    (of speech) painful or bitter
    “" salt scorn"- Shakespeare”
    “a salt apology”
    keenly and painfully felt; as if caused by a sharp edge or point
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