WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2020
salt•pe•ter  (sôlt′pētər),USA pronunciation n. 
  1. Chemistrythe form of potassium nitrate, KNO3, that occurs naturally, used in the manufacture of fireworks, fluxes, gunpowder, etc.;
  2. ChemistrySee  Chile saltpeter. 
Also,  salt′petre. 
  • Medieval Latin salpetrē, for Latin sal petrae salt of rock, so called because it commonly encrusts stones
  • 1275–1325; earlier salt peter; replacing Middle English sal peter, salpetre

Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::
saltpetre, US saltpeter /ˌsɔːltˈpiːtə/ n
  1. another name for potassium nitrate
  2. short for Chile saltpetre
Etymology: 16th Century: from Old French salpetre, from Latin sal petrae salt of rock
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