#5 The origins of Salary (through salt)

The history of Salt and salary are intertwined. In present day, we make extensive use the term salary. But what is a salary? where did this word come from? 

Salary originated from “sal” and “Salarium”. Here are some interesting facts both about salt and salary:

  • Salt is precious and necessary for life
  • Humans need salt to keep their cells inflated
  • Humans need salt to regulate blood pressure
  • Humans need salt in order for electrical nerve impulses to function properly
  • An average of 6 grammes of Sodium Chloride is recommended for a day
  • Foods such as animals and plants contain natural salt
  • Salt is also harvested
  • Salt was also used to preserve food or hide odour in meat
  • Salt was at one point was treated as a currency
  • Due to its popularity and preciousness, it is said that during the era soldiers were given sal/salarium as allowance to purchase salt or paid in salt (historians still debate which one)
  • From there on, originated the expressions such as “being worth one’s salt”
  • Or the Hindi version “Maine aapka namak khaaya hai”, literally translated to “I have eaten your salt” which means being dependent on the person for a living
  • Salt was also referred to as the “White Gold”

Another word that the roman gave us through salt is “Salad”. It was custom for the romans to add salt to their green leaves and from there on you know the rest of the story. It’s amazing how something like salt gave us words like Saliferous, Salinise. Salad and Salary.


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