Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Salt Junk

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The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is salt junk. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Salt junk is dried salted beef.

// In the past, sailors survived long voyages eating salt junk.

SALT JUNK in Context

“Civil War soldiers referred to hardtack as ‘death bells’; sailors called salt meat ‘salt junk,’ meaning salted rope (‘junk’ was originally a term for scraps of worn-out rope, which could be put to various uses aboard ship).” — Charles Perry, The Los Angeles Times, 27 Mar. 2002

Did You Know?

Salt junk might refer to any salty junk food, but, by definition, it refers to dried salted beef and has nautical origins as a name for food preserved with salt for long sea voyages. The word junk itself was used for pieces of old cable or cordage, which influenced the term salt junk for tough, chewy food.

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