Word origin: Salary: Briny beginnings

Word origin: SALARY Briny beginnings

Salt was a precious commodity in Ancient Rome. So much so that it was used as currency to pay for goods and services.

This is where the word salary comes from, sal being the Latin word for salt. Roman soldiers were the first people to receive something called a salary, which literally consisted of a handful of salt per day. This is also where the phrase “being worth your salt” comes from.

“In Rome… the soldier’s pay was originally salt and the word salary derives from it.”
Pliny the Elder

Another word in the English language with a similarly saline heritage is salad. This connection also dates back to Roman times and has its origin in the custom of preserving and flavouring vegetables with brine. Something to consider next time you’re tucking into a caprese.


Posted in Etymology