Definition of saltpetre noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

 

saltpetre

 noun
(US English saltpeter)noun
BrE BrE//ˌsɔːltˈpiːtə(r)//
 
, also BrE//ˌsɒltˈpiːtə(r)//
 
; NAmE NAmE//ˌsɔːltˈpiːtər//
 
[uncountable]
 
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a white powder used for preserving food and making matches and gunpowder Word Origin late Middle English: from Old French salpetre, from medieval Latin salpetra, probably representing sal petrae ‘salt of rock’ (i.e. found as an encrustation). The change in the first element was due to association with salt.