The heraldic sense "leaping" and the sense "projecting outward" are from Latin saliens, salientem, from saliō ‎(leap, spring). The senses "prominent" and "pertinent" are relatively recently from the phrase "salient point", which is from the Latin punctum saliens, a translation of Aristotle's term for the embryonal heart visible in (opened) eggs, which he thought seemed to move already. Compare the German calque der springende Punkt.


  • IPA(key): /ˈseɪljənt/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈseɪ.ljənt/, /ˈseɪ.li.ənt/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: sa‧lient


salient ‎(comparative more salient, superlative most salient)

  1. Worthy of note; pertinent or relevant.
    The article is not exhaustive, but it covers the salient points pretty well.
  2. Prominent; conspicuous.
    • Bancroft
      He [Grenville] had neither salient traits, nor general comprehensiveness of mind.
  3. (heraldry, usually of a quadruped) Depicted in a leaping posture.
    a lion salient
  4. (often military) Projecting outwards, pointing outwards.
    a salient angle
  5. (obsolete) Moving by leaps or springs; jumping.
    • Sir Thomas Browne
      frogs and salient animals
  6. (obsolete) Shooting or springing out; projecting.
    • Burke
      He had in himself a salient, living spring of generous and manly action.


1878 1898 1936
ME « 15th c. 16th c. 17th c. 18th c. 19th c. 20th c. 21st c.
  • 1878, Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native, Book 2, chapter 5:
    With nearer approach these fragmentary sounds became pieced together, and were found to be the salient points of the tune called "Nancy's Fancy."
  • 1898, H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds Book2, chapter 2:
    The last salient point in which the systems of these creatures differed from ours was in what one might have thought a very trivial particular.
  • 1936, H.P. Lovecraft, The Shadow Over Innsmouth:
    Warning me that many of the street signs were down, the youth drew for my benefit a rough but ample and painstaking sketch map of the town's salient features.



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salient ‎(plural salients)

  1. (military) an outwardly projecting part of a fortification, trench system, or line of defense

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