Salt has been a very valued spice for thousands of years, and that has rubbed off on our language.
In Roman times, wages were paid in salt (sal), according to Pliny the Elder, and that gave rise to the term salarium – our current salary. Another theory links the two words differently: a salary was the money used to buy salt.
Some other experts even claim that the word for soldier, soldarius, is also derived from salt (as a “person who receives a salary”), though a link with the coin solidus seems more robust.
For the final link between salt and money, the Latin verb saldare (current Spanish and Portuguese saldar, Italian saldare), meaning to “pay off a debt”, literally means sal dare, or “give salt”.
Think of it next time you tip over a saltshaker – you’ll be wasting money!
Originally published in The blind mouse.